The following is a list of questions that FWU believes are very important to ask of those who are in office, running for office, or have something to do with Farm and Food Policy.
Important Farm and Food Questions to Ask
If you are concerned about where your food comes from and who produces it, the following questions should be asked to those who develop, enact, and enforce our nation’s food policies.
Do you believe that small to midsize family farms and associated small businesses are worth saving?
Whole milk has been taken out of the School Lunch Program and replaced with skim milk and up to 1% flavored milk. Do you support putting whole milk back into the School Lunch Program?
There are hundreds of millions of dollars being invested to grow milk and meat in laboratories from genetic material sourced from cows and other animals. These "products," which some call "Fake Food,” are, or soon will be, on the market. Do you support clear, transparent labeling to indicate that these "products" are lab-grown?
The average net farm income in the United States was negative in 2017 and will likely be negative again for 2018, when all data is reported. How would you address this crisis?
Concentration in agriculture has resulted in farmers having no economic power in the marketplace. The “Ag Industry” beyond the farm, including unaccountable dairy co-ops, has all the economic power. The “Industry” is making record profits, while the farmers are enduring record losses. How would you address this problem?
Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) is a dehydrated and ultra-processed compound widely used in dairy products to extend yields and boost profits, while compromising quality, misleading consumers and replacing traditional, healthy dairy products. These practices often violate Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) "Standards of Identity." The FDA exercises “discretionary enforcement” which to farmers means the government looks the other way as industrial agriculture unfairly competes with family-owned farms. What action would you take to restrain these violations?
Many dairy farmers believe dairy co-operatives no longer serve the needs of farmers as defined by the Capper-Volstead Act of 1922 which allowed farmers and ranchers to work together to market their products. Do you support Congressional hearings to investigate Capper-Volstead abuses, anti-trust violations, farmer free speech and association issues, excessive milk check deductions, and any other abuses and violations of current laws and standards?
Working farming, ranching and fishing operations do not have any say in international trade agreements. Do you believe that food should continue to be part of “Free Trade Agreements”?
Low milk prices, now moving into the 5th year, prevent dairy farmers from cash flowing, forcing many out of business. These low milk prices also threaten our local, rural infrastructure. The federal government controls the milk pricing formula but does not include the farmers' "cost of production" in the milk price they are paid. Will you support a temporary "Emergency $20 per cwt. Floor Price" for farm milk so farmers can pay bills while federal hearings are held to investigate the dairy crisis issues and to seek long-term remedies to fix defective and inadequate dairy provisions?
As is typical with government involvement, the people negatively impacted by low milk prices, the farmers, have no say in determining the value of their cows' milk. Would you support milk pricing reform measures to develop a viable way for local farmers themselves to be involved in setting the prices for their milk to include what it costs to produce milk?
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law on July 21, 2010, overhauled the nation’s financial regulations. These regulations have resulted in local banks not having the authority or capability to offer loans to farms and small businesses. What would you do to restore more local control over farm and small business loans?
Debt is increasing in all sectors of agriculture. Do you believe that farmers who have been in business 30, 40, or 50 years, needing to borrow money for routine operating expenses, including planting crops, signals a serious underlying problem in agriculture?
Currently the World Trade Organization (WTO) opposes "Country of Origin Labeling" ("COOL") for food, calling it “trade distorting.” What will you do to ensure that consumers are informed about where their food comes from?
Many dairy farms must greatly expand their herds in order to qualify for loans. A never-ending cycle of expansion and debt seems to be sanctioned by lenders and backed by the federal government. Do you think this approach is wise?
If, and when, disaster assistance is enacted for farmers, severely impacted by natural disasters, this assistance is now in the form of loans, further burdening farmers already struggling due to low farm commodity prices. How do you propose to solve the never-ending low farm commodity price and high debt environment?
Do you believe that the control of our food supply by a very few, very large players, is in the best interest of our nation’s food security?
“Ship-ability,” shelf life, texture, color, and uniformity of food products are much higher priorities in the “food industry” than nutritional value. How do you propose making the true nutritional value of food a higher priority?