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Environmental Activists Critical of New Federal Policy Designed to Curb Antibiotics in Meat

Environmental Activists Critical of New Federal Policy Designed to Curb Antibiotics in Meat

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A vague new policy announced by the federal government has made environmental activists skeptical.

The White House just released a new policy that outlines a strong effort on the part of federal agencies to promote “antibiotic stewardship — the development, promotion, and implementation of activities to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics” for livestock. Federal agencies will now be required to sign a memorandum promising that they will “create a preference” for meat and poultry purchases that have been raised in a responsible and humane environment. The Presidential Food Service is even stricter and will “commit to serving meats that have not been treated with antibiotics or hormones.”

Although the new policy makes it sound like the government wants to cut back on antibiotic and hormone usage in farming, the news release is vague on the specifics, as the International Business Times points out. The White House also stipulated that the new policies will take five years to go into full effect.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has immediately expressed concern that the new policy could actually create a loophole for “irresponsible antibiotics usage.”

“To truly eliminate the routine use of antibiotics in animals that are not sick, the federal government should do more to ensure that antibiotics are used to only treat sick animals and control disease outbreaks,” Mae Wu, health attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “The federal policy should halt all routine use of medically important antibiotics, not just one category of routine use.”

But are antibiotics in our meat and poultry a big deal? According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, yes: They have stated that consistently giving antibiotics to livestock that are not sick (a common agricultural practice) has made these certain pathogens resistant to antibiotics, meaning that when humans get sick from these same pathogens, our chances of effective treatment become slimmer and slimmer.


The Biden Plan to Ensure the Future is “Made in All of America” by All of America’s Workers

Joe Biden will mobilize the talent, grit, and innovation of the American people and the full power of the federal government to bolster American industrial and technological strength and ensure the future is “made in all of America” by all of America’s workers. Biden believes that American workers can out-compete anyone, but their government needs to fight for them.

Biden does not accept the defeatist view that the forces of automation and globalization render us helpless to retain well-paid union jobs and create more of them here in America. He does not buy for one second that the vitality of U.S. manufacturing is a thing of the past. U.S. manufacturing was the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II, and must be part of the Arsenal of American Prosperity today, helping fuel an economic recovery for working families.

The American story has always been deeply rooted in our ability to reinvent ourselves in the face of new challenges. At key moments in our history, the federal government, private sector, and above all American workers and working families have mobilized to unleash eras of innovation and shared prosperity. This partnership propelled us to the moon, to transformative treatments for HIV/AIDS and other diseases, to the creation of the internet, and more. But President Trump has denied science, under-funded research and development, and implemented policies that encourage more manufacturing to move overseas.

If we make smart investments in manufacturing and technology, give our workers and companies the tools they need to compete, use taxpayer dollars to buy American and spark American innovation, stand up to the Chinese government’s abuses, insist on fair trade, and extend opportunity to all Americans, many of the products that are being made abroad could be made here today. And, if we do these things with an unwavering commitment to bolstering American industrial strength, which we will power using clean energy that we also harvest here at home, we will also lead in making the cutting-edge products and services of tomorrow. Biden will do more than bring back the jobs lost due to COVID-19 and Trump’s incompetence, he will create millions of new manufacturing and innovation jobs throughout all of America.

These will be high-quality, high-skill, safe jobs with the choice to join a union — jobs that will grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class. Biden will include in the economic recovery legislation he sends to Congress a series of policies to build worker power to raise wages and secure stronger benefits. This legislation will make it easier for workers to organize a union and bargain collectively with their employers by including the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, card check, union and bargaining rights for public service workers, and a broad definition of “employee” and tough enforcement to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. It will also go further than the PRO Act by holding company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts.

Donald Trump’s main manufacturing and innovation strategy is trickle-down economics that works for corporate executives and Wall Street investors, but not working families. He gave huge tax cuts to the largest multinationals with no requirement that they invest in the United States or favor U.S. jobs over offshoring. He pursued a trade strategy that prioritizes access for big multinational banks to China’s market but has done next to nothing to curb Chinese government trade abuses that hurt U.S. workers. The results have been predictable:

  • The Trump tax cut encouraged offshoring and investment overseas – not in the United States. Foreign investment was outpacing domestic investment.
  • In the first 18 months of Trump’s presidency, the rate of federal contractors offshoring jobs more than doubled.
  • In 2018, stock buybacks were at record highs and corporate tax payments were at record lows.
  • In 2019, U.S. manufacturing was in recession, and Trump’s much vaunted China trade strategy ended up contributing to a decline in American manufacturing exports.

Biden’s comprehensive manufacturing and innovation strategy will marshall the resources of the federal government in ways that we have not seen since World War II. Together, the following six lines of effort will remake American manufacturing and innovation so that the future is made in America by all of America’s workers:

  1. BUY AMERICAN. Make “Buy American”Real and Make a $400 billion Procurement Investment that together with the Biden clean energy and infrastructure plan will power new demand for American products, materials, and services and ensure that they are shipped on U.S.-flagged cargo carriers.
  2. MAKE IT IN AMERICA.Retool and Revitalize American Manufacturers, with a particular focus on smaller manufacturers and those owned by women and people of color, through specific incentives, additional resources, and new financing tools.
  3. INNOVATE IN AMERICA.Make a New $300 Billion Investment in Research and Development (R&D) and Breakthrough Technologies — from electric vehicle technology to lightweight materials to 5G and artificial intelligence — to unleash high-quality job creation in high-value manufacturing and technology.
  4. INVEST IN ALL OF AMERICA.Ensure Investments Reach All of America so we draw on the full talents and invest in the potential of all our communities and workers. America is not at full strength when investments, venture capital, educational opportunities and paths to good jobs are limited by race, zip code, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion or national origin. Biden will ensure that the major public investments in his plan — procurement, R&D, infrastructure, training, and education — reach all Americans across all states and regions, including urban and rural communities, with historic investments in communities of color and an emphasis on small businesses.
  5. STAND UP FOR AMERICA.Pursue a Pro-American Worker Tax and Trade Strategy to fix the harmful policies of the Trump Administration and give our manufacturers and workers the fair shot they need to compete for jobs and market share.
  6. SUPPLY AMERICA.Bring Back Critical Supply Chains to America so we aren’t dependent on China or any other country for the production of critical goods in a crisis.

In addition to bringing back the jobs lost this year, Joe Biden’s plan to ensure the future is made in all of America will help create at least 5 million new jobs in manufacturing and innovation.

BUY AMERICAN: MAKE “BUY AMERICAN” REAL AND MAKE A HISTORIC PROCUREMENT INVESTMENT IN AMERICAN PRODUCTS, SERVICES, SUPPLY CHAINS, AND TRANSPORTATION OF GOODS

Biden will use the government’s purchasing power to Buy American, boosting U.S. industries through a historic procurement investment he is announcing today and an ambitious extension of his infrastructure and clean energy plans that he will announce soon.

Make Buy American Real

Biden starts with a pretty basic idea – when we spend taxpayer money, we should buy American products and support American jobs. Almost 90 years ago, Congress passed the Buy American Act to advance this basic idea. But we have never fully lived up to it.

For decades, big corporations and special interests have fought for loopholes that redirect taxpayer dollars to foreign companies. The result: tens of billions of taxpayer dollars each year go to support foreign jobs and to bolster foreign industries. In 2018 alone, the Department of Defense (DOD) spent $3 billion on foreign construction contracts, leaving American steel and iron out in the cold, and nearly $300 million on foreign engines and vehicles instead of buying from American companies and putting Americans to work.

Trump likes to talk about Buy American – but his actions have made matters worse:

  • During the first 18 months of his presidency, the annual rate at which major federal contractors offshored jobs more than doubled.
  • On his watch, government contracts awarded directly to foreign companies are up 30%.
  • Our military has become more reliant on foreign suppliers, increasing DOD foreign contracts 12%.
  • His corporate tax cut is handing taxpayer money to big companies that are still offshoring their production.

Biden will make a national commitment to Buy American – and make this promise real, not just rhetoric. He will:

  • Tighten domestic content rules. Today, loopholes in the law allow products to be stamped “made in America” for purposes of federal procurement even if barely 51% of the materials used to produce them are domestically made. Biden will tighten these rules to require more legitimate American content — so when we deem something made in America, it reflects the work and output of American workers.
  • Crack down on waivers to Buy American requirements. Too often, Buy American operates like a suggestion, not a requirement. Procurement officers within federal Agencies can waive Buy American rules without explanation or scrutiny. Biden will close these waiver loopholes. First, he will establish a transparent process so that any time a federal contractor requests a waiver based on a claim that something can’t be made in America, it will be published on a website for all potential bidders and relevant stakeholders (like labor unions) to see. Second, he will use expanded Manufacturing Extension Partnerships together with new efforts to identify firms — particularly small businesses and those owned by women and people of color — that have the capability to fill these procurement needs, and provide direct support so that they can raise their hand and have a shot at stepping up to make it here. Biden successfully deployed this approach through the Transportation Department during the Recovery Act, and will extend it to all of government as President.
  • End false advertising. Biden will also crack down on companies that label products as Made in America even if they’re coming from China or elsewhere. For example, a company selling deployment bags to active-duty troops falsely claimed its products were Made in America, when in reality they came from China. And when an American competitor filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the Trump Administration imposed no penalties.
  • Extend Buy American to other forms of government assistance. For example, when the government is investing in research and development, it should be supporting manufacturing and sourcing in America. No more “invent it here, make it there.” Taxpayer-funded research investments in the 20th century laid the foundation for MRI technologies, yet some of the companies directly benefiting from these innovations are moving MRI production to China. If companies benefit from taxpayer-funded research that leads to new products and profits, those products should be made in the U.S. or the company should reimburse the government for its support. The days of taxpayer benefits going to companies that seek to outsource jobs or avoid paying their fair share of taxes are over.
  • Strengthen and enforce Buy America. Like Buy American, Buy America provisions – which require that all of the steel, iron, and manufactured products used in transportation projects are melted, mined, and manufactured in the U.S. – are critical for the U.S. manufacturing industry. As part of its historic investment in infrastructure, Biden will strengthen and enforce Buy America.
  • Update the trade rules for Buy American: Biden will work with allies to modernize international trade rules and associated domestic regulations regarding government procurement to make sure that the U.S. and allies can use their own taxpayer dollars to spur investment in their own countries.
  • Ship American. The U.S.-flag Merchant Marine fleet and the men and women who operate U.S.-flag ships are crucial to America’s national security, our international trade relationships, and economic development. For this reason, Biden has been a consistent and strong advocate for the Jones Act and its mandate that only U.S.-flag vessels carry cargo between U.S. ports. He will take steps to ensure American cargo is carried on U.S.-flag ships, leading to additional demand for American-made ships and U.S. merchant mariners.

Make A Historic Procurement Investment

Ensuring that our existing taxpayer dollars support American jobs is a crucial first step, but to truly rebuild our industrial base, we need to go further – targeting more federal purchases and more R&D investment to unleash American industry and innovation going forward.

In this time of crisis, Biden will invest $400 billion in his first term in additional federal purchases of products made by American workers, with transparent, targeted investments that unleash new demand for domestic goods and services and create American jobs. This will be the largest mobilization of public investments in procurement, infrastructure and R&D since WWII.

History has shown that when the government commits to make significant purchases in targeted, tradable sectors, it positions U.S. manufacturers to create good American jobs by supplying our own communities and selling more products to the rest of the world. But outside the context of war, we have not historically used our federal purchasing power to aggressively promote U.S. national interests.

These procurement commitments will provide a strong, stable source of demand for products made by American workers and supply chains composed of American small businesses. These commitments will grow new companies and ensure existing companies that employ Americans thrive in vital sectors from steel and cars to robotics and biotechnology. They will increase our industrial strength so we can win in growing global export markets. Specifically, Biden will:

  • Commit to purchasing tens of billions of dollars of clean vehicles and products to support the expansion of clean energy generation capacity, ensuring we are on the forefront of the clean energy export markets of the future. Other countries should be buying the next generation of battery technology and electric vehicles manufactured by American workers.
  • Commit to purchasing American steel, cement, concrete, building materials, and equipment, and in the process not only help rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and retrofit our buildings, but position our domestic companies to lead in resilient, sustainable production for the future.
  • Commit to forward purchases of critical medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, ensuring sufficient stockpiles to weather any crisis—and that Americans get the best possible care.
  • Commit to future purchases in advanced industries like cutting-edge telecommunications and artificial intelligence, not only creating new, lasting American jobs, but protecting our intellectual property and national security from threats from American adversaries that have gone unaddressed by Trump.

As called for in his plan to strengthen worker organizing, collective bargaining, and unions, Biden will require that companies receiving procurement contracts are using taxpayer dollars to support good American jobs, including a commitment to pay at least $15 per hour, provide paid leave, maintain fair overtime and scheduling practices, and guarantee a choice to join a union and bargain collectively.

Biden’s historic procurement effort will be designed to support small businesses and those owned by women and people of color. Just as he did during the Recovery Act—which substantially increased the share of federal contracts awarded to small businesses—Biden is committed to applying the Federal Government’s goal of ensuring that at least 23% of federal contracts get awarded to small businesses. He will implement a multi-pronged small business contracting strategy that includes formula-based awards, widespread outreach and counseling to small businesses owners, and transparent monitoring of contract awards. And he will build on the efforts of the Obama-Biden Administration by launching a new Federal Procurement Center — a first-of-its-kind program to help minority-owned firms apply for and win federal government contracts. President Trump has proposed slashing the funding and even terminating the Minority Business Development Agency and its programs. Biden will do the opposite.

MAKE IT IN AMERICA: RETOOL AND REVITALIZE THE BACKBONE OF AMERICAN MANUFACTURING TO WIN THE JOBS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW

The dramatic increase in demand from the largest combined infrastructure (already announced), procurement (see above), and R&D (see below) public investment since WWII will power economic recovery, accelerate job creation, and jumpstart the modernization and revitalization of American manufacturing. A McKinsey study supports the notion that the type of comprehensive strategy Biden is proposing could lead to 2 million more manufacturing jobs and $500 billion in additional annual GDP by 2025.

Biden will put a special focus on the backbone of American manufacturing — the thousands of small and medium-sized manufacturers throughout the country. He saw firsthand through the rescue of the American auto industry in 2009 that these small and medium-sized manufacturers are critical to jobs, innovation, and ensuring that the future is made in America.

While the Trump Administration has created huge new programs for any large multinational corporation to get cheap capital with no job commitments – it has no strategy to help smaller manufacturers invest and stay competitive. By contrast, Biden will:

  • Provide Capital for Small-Medium Manufacturers to Invest and Compete: Biden will establish a credit facility to supply capital, especially to smaller manufacturers, so that our aging factories can modernize, compete, and reduce carbon. Low-cost financing for manufacturing investment — including for those struggling with the harms of the COVID-19 crisis – will ensure American manufacturers can invest in the new equipment they need to compete today while supporting a sustainable future.
  • Quadruple the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help America’s small and medium-sized manufacturers compete for Buy American contracts and modernize: When large contractors claim they need “Buy American” waivers because they can’t find a U.S. manufacturer, these MEPs help small and medium-sized manufacturers compete for those contracts. Trump tried to eliminate this program Biden will quadruple it.
  • Pass a Manufacturing Tax Credit to Retool and Revitalize: While Trump’s tax breaks provide giveaways even if companies offshore or move investment overseas, Biden will provide a special Manufacturing Communities Tax Credit that promotes revitalizing, renovating, and modernizing existing – or recently closed down – facilities. Projects receiving the credit will have to benefit local workers and communities by meeting strong labor standards, including paying workers a prevailing wage, employing workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs, and aiming to utilize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements. Because Biden understands that investing in clean energy jobs will drive the strength and competitiveness of our manufacturing sector – as part of the Clean Energy component of his jobs and recovery plan, Biden will expand and extend tax credits that will turbo-charge growth in American manufacturing
  • Expand Manufacturing Innovation Partnerships: Biden’s manufacturing and R&D strategy will build on the successful efforts of the Obama-Biden Administration and those of Senator Sherrod Brown and others to connect research universities — including HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions — community colleges, manufacturing institutes, and employers, unions, and state, local, and tribal governments. These historic investments will connect workers and manufacturers of all sizes to the know-how and technologies needed to compete and win.

Joe Biden’s plan will ensure the American Auto Industry Wins the 21st Century: During the Great Recession, Biden played a critical role in saving and reviving the American auto industry and saving more than a million American auto jobs. He has always understood that the auto industry is the heart of American manufacturing and must remain the global leader for generations to come. He recognizes that the auto industry not only supports a wide range of U.S. manufacturing capability, from steel and aluminum to electrical components and semiconductors, it is also critical to our clean energy future. Even before COVID-19 hit, auto and auto-part manufacturing growth under Obama-Biden was about three times greater than under Trump, nine times greater in Ohio, while states like Michigan actually lost auto manufacturing jobs jobs under Trump’s watch.

Every plank of the Biden manufacturing and innovation plan will strengthen both the auto jobs of today and tomorrow. Bold federal procurement and Buy American provisions will create near-term demand for U.S. auto manufacturing and bring back jobs. Investments in technology and innovation will spur U.S. production of new energy and safety technologies, thus increasing the domestic content in U.S. vehicles. Dedicated grants and funding to help manufacturers retool and build new factories will help ensure U.S. global leadership in electric vehicle manufacturing, including EV components and batteries.

INNOVATE IN AMERICA: A MAJOR INVESTMENT IN FEDERALLY FUNDED R&D ACROSS ALL 50 STATES

A successful plan to ensure a future made in America means the United States must have a strategy to win not just the jobs of today – but the jobs and industries of tomorrow. That requires fighting back against unfair trade practices and the theft of American intellectual property, as well as making a national commitment to get off the sidelines as competitors are making aggressive public investments in science and technology to take over global leadership in the most advanced technologies.

Joe Biden is proposing a dramatic, accelerated Research & Development investment of $300 billion over 4 years to create millions of good jobs today, and to secure our global leadership in the most critical and competitive new industries and technologies. Credible estimates indicate that this level of investment could help create 3 million jobs or more.

China is on track to surpass the US in R&D. China’s total R&D expenditures have increased nearly 30-fold from 1991 to 2016. By some estimates, China will overtake the US in R&D spending in 2020. And, as part of China’s “Made in China 2025” plan, China’s government has launched funds to increase manufacturing and technological innovation in key industries, including battery technology, artificial intelligence, and 5G. China’s government is actively investing in research and commercialization across these types of important technology areas, in an effort to overtake American technological primacy and dominate future industries.

Declines in Federal R&D spending have contributed to a hollowing out of the American middle class. The Trump White House and Republicans in Congress have forgotten that major investments in federal R&D not only drove U.S. industrial and technological leadership, but created millions of good-paying middle class jobs. The fight for our future requires us to return to that winning commitment from our past. In 1964, public federal R&D support was 2% of GDP, compared to only 0.7% today. This difference amounts to nearly $250 billion less annually in federal R&D spending. MIT professors Simon Johnson and Jonathan Gruber have found that declining public investment has also led to slow productivity and wage growth.

The $300 billion in innovation funding will power home-grown industries that can lead the world and create jobs in advanced materials, health and medicine, biotechnology, clean energy, autos, aerospace, artificial intelligence, telecommunications, and more. Specifically, Biden will allocate funding to:

  • Major increases in direct federal R&D spending, including new National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Biden’s new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and other peer-reviewed science research grants to colleges and universities.
  • New breakthrough technology R&D programs to direct investments to key technologies in support of U.S. competitiveness – including 5G, artificial intelligence, advanced materials, biotechnology, and clean vehicles.
  • Competitive capital financing to encourage small businesses to commercialize cutting-edge technology, such as a scaled-up version of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, “America’s seed fund,” which provides capital to small businesses pursuing R&D commercialization in concert with research institutions.
  • State-of-the-art workforce skill development, such as funds for the creation or expansion of technical training programs around digital, statistical, and technology skills, funded by the Labor Department. This will increase pathways for those – including women and workers of color — who are too often under-represented in critical technology jobs.
  • Infrastructure for educational institutions and partners to expand research, such as building new research labs, buying modern manufacturing equipment, or creating new business parks.

As part of this historic R&D investment, Joe Biden will work to ensure that technological change benefits workers, creates jobs, and strengthens the middle class. He will:

  • Ensure that taxpayers benefit from the upside of federal research dollars that create profitable inventions. U.S. taxpayers should benefit from the upside of federal investments that result in profitable inventions underwritten by federal funds. Biden will strengthen existing federal rights to ensure that the U.S. government captures a share of the royalties of high-profitable products developed with federal R&D funding.
  • Ensure workers have a voice in innovation and are first in line to benefit. As president, Biden will ensure that employers receiving federal funds give all affected employees advance notice of technology changes and automation in the workplace, put their employees at the front of the line for new jobs, and offer paid skills training so that employees can succeed in new jobs. And, he will ensure employers discuss workplace technology changes with their employees and their unions and bargain over protections against employees being displaced.

INVEST IN ALL OF AMERICA: ENSURE WE DRAW ON THE FULL TALENTS AND INVEST IN THE POTENTIAL OF ALL OUR COMMUNITIES AND WORKERS

A strategy to ensure the future is made in America will not work unless we have a dramatic new commitment to ensure we are investing in – and drawing on the talents of – all of America. Today, we fall short in too many ways. We fail to provide meaningful investment in R&D and venture capital to all regions of our nation and we fail to give too many Americans – especially those of color or from lower-income urban and rural communities – the full opportunities they deserve to have pathways to good jobs and careers. America is not at full strength when investments, venture capital, educational opportunities, and paths to good jobs are limited by race, zip codes, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, and national origin.

The Biden plan will ensure major research, public investment, and training and education for manufacturing and innovation jobs goes to all parts of America, both urban and rural communities, with historic investments in communities of color.

Joe Biden’s R&D Challenge for All of America

The economic opportunities from investment in innovation have not been shared throughout the U.S. Twenty five percent of venture capital investment is concentrated in the San Francisco area, and 75% flows to just three states: California, New York, and Massachusetts. Female entrepreneurs only receive 16% of all venture capital dollars. Only 3% go to start-ups with Black or Latino founders. As experts from MIT and Brookings have argued, there are a significant number of diverse communities across every region of the country that could become new centers of job-creating innovation and production.

We cannot lead the world if we leave too much of our talent sitting on the bench. Biden will diversify this bold new innovation investment so it supports jobs, small businesses, and entrepreneurs in every part of the United States. He will:

  • Direct new federal investments to more than 50 communities across our nation that have the capabilities but have too often been overlooked, in both rural and urban areas. He will invest in new technology hubs that bring together this research and development investment with workforce training and education and small and medium-sized businesses, resulting in new innovations from more places, which means stronger communities and job creation. These investments will build on successful programs like Detroit’s LIFT and Youngstown’s “America Makes,” each of which has helped start innovative new start-ups and commercialize cutting-edge technologies.
  • Guarantee that funding is equitably allocated so that women and communities of color receive their fair share of investment dollars. Biden will ensure that federal research and procurement dollars are awarded fairly and will apply the principles of Congressman Jim Clyburn’s 10-20-30 plan to ensure that help goes to high-poverty areas that have long suffered disinvestment. And, he’ll invest in the diverse talent at Historically Black College and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions to solve the country’s most pressing problems, including by (a) creating at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future, (b) dedicating additional and increased priority funding streams at federal agencies for grants and contracts for HBCUs and MSIs, and c) requiring any federal research grants to universities with an endowment of over $1 billion to form a meaningful partnership and enter into a 10% minimum subcontract with an HBCU, TCU, or MSI. Biden will also require that competitive grant programs give similar universities the opportunity to compete against each other, for example, ensuring that HBCUs only compete against HBCUs.

Joe Biden’s Job and Educational Opportunity Challenge for All of America

The need to draw on the talents of all of America is even more pronounced when it comes to building our innovation and manufacturing workforce. Yet today, opportunity is unevenly distributed. Too few women and people of color have been provided with the pathways to the high-skill, high wage, in-demand jobs that STEM careers offer, including in manufacturing and innovation. And too many skilled workers in manufacturing do not get the full chance to increasingly upgrade their skills and be first in line for new jobs in changing industries.

Biden’s plan to invest in career and technical education for high school students and his plan for free high-quality training programs and community colleges and free tuition for 4-year degrees for families earning less than $125,000 will go a long way toward building the workforce for a major expansion in manufacturing and innovation jobs.

He will go further, investing $50 billion in high-quality training programs that give workers a chance to earn an industry-recognized credential without debt. As part of this commitment, Biden will:

  • Create and expand community college-business-union partnerships to develop effective training programs. Building on successes in the Obama-Biden Administration, Biden will invest in partnerships between community colleges and their faculty, businesses, unions, state, local, and tribal governments, universities, and high schools and their instructors to identify in-demand knowledge and skills in a community and develop or modernize training programs. These programs – which could be as short as a few months or as long as two years – will lead to a relevant, high-demand industry-recognized credential.
  • Scale up work-based learning programs with a focus on building a diverse workforce, through opportunities like registered apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeship programs and other labor-management training programs. Biden will work with unions to bring forward a new generation of registered apprenticeships in fields ranging from technology to manufacturing to care work. These high-quality registered apprenticeships will allow workers who have lost their jobs as a result of this crisis or young people and others who are entering a weak job market to train to enter the jobs of the future while earning a decent income. Registered apprenticeship programs like the innovative Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship train workers for specialized manufacturing jobs with 18 months of work-based learning and a few technical college classes. Biden also will invest in pre-apprenticeship programs that have a partnership with a registered apprenticeship program, with a focus on ensuring these programs provide a pathway to high-quality employment opportunities for a diverse workforce, including both racial and gender diversity.
  • Help develop pathways for diverse workers to access training and career opportunities. A study of Labor Department-funded individual career services – which included assistance looking for a job, help developing career plans, and one-on-one career coaching – found that earnings for workers who were provided these services increased 7 to 20%. Biden will ensure these services are universally available to all workers and people entering the workforce who need them. And, he will increase funding for community-based and proven organizations that help women and people of color access high-quality training and job opportunities.
  • Extend Unemployment Insurance benefits for the duration of training, up-skilling, and reskilling programs while unemployment rates are elevated, so that millions of people can get skills for new technology, innovation, trades, and other jobs, in all parts of America.

In order to ensure the United States is as competitive as possible, we need to tap into all of the talent across our country, including women and communities of color. That’s why Biden’s plan to invest over $70 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions is a key piece of his manufacturing and innovation workforce strategy. In addition to directing additional federal research dollars to these schools and requiring that setting aside competitive grant dollars that for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs that only similar universities compete over, Biden will invest $35 billion in HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs to create research centers of excellence, build high-tech labs and other facilities, and strengthen graduate programs in fields including STEM. Biden will also tackle workplace discrimination and harassment that keeps so many women, especially women of color, from earning equal pay or fully realizing their professional goals.

A PRO-AMERICAN-WORKER TAX AND TRADE STRATEGY

American workers and businesses can out-compete anyone, hands-down. But their government needs to fight for them. Biden will fight for every American job in the tough competition for jobs and markets – especially against unfair foreign practices. The President needs to stand with American workers and communities, not with wealthy corporations or the foreign governments that are subsidizing and protecting their businesses.

That’s one of the problems with Trump. When push comes to shove, Trump sides with corporate interests against workers, their unions, and their communities. And he rewards corporations and their executives for abandoning American workers and moving jobs overseas — rather than holding them accountable to create, maintain, and bring back jobs to the U.S.

President Trump’s 2017 tax plan showered Wall Street and powerful multinational corporations with incentives to move jobs and production overseas. And Trump’s go-it-alone trade war and empty “phase one” deal with China has been an unmitigated disaster, inflicting maximum pain on American workers and farmers, while doing nothing to curb Beijing’s trade abuses. In negotiating with China’s government, Trump spent more energy fighting for big corporations than he did fighting for American workers. To this day, China’s government continues its trade abuses and is failing to live up to its commitments.

The goal of every decision about trade must be to build the American middle class, create jobs, raise wages, and strengthen communities. To stand up for American workers, Biden’s tax and trade strategy will take a number of steps, including:

  • Take aggressive trade enforcement actions against China or any other country seeking to undercut American manufacturing through unfair practices, including currency manipulation, anti-competitive dumping, state-owned company abuses, or unfair subsidies.
  • Rally our allies in a coordinated effort to pressure the Chinese government and other trade abusers to follow the rules and hold them to account when they do not. Rather than picking fights with our allies and undermining respect for America, Biden will work with our closest allies, mobilizing more than half the world’s economy to better deliver for our workers. Biden will focus our allies on addressing overcapacity in industries, ranging from steel and aluminum to fiber optics to shipbuilding and other sectors, and focus on the key contributor to the problem – China’s government.
  • Confront foreign efforts to steal American intellectual property. China’s government and other state-led actors have engaged in an assault on American creativity. From cyberattacks to forced technology transfer to talent acquisition, American ingenuity and taxpayer investments are too often fueling the advances in other nations. And when it comes to China, under Trump’s “phase one” deal all those practices continue. The piecemeal and ineffective approach of the Trump Administration will be replaced with a coordinated and effective strategy.
  • Address state-sponsored cyber espionage against American companies. Trump allowed a landmark 2015 agreement negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration to lapse, dramatically increasing China’s state-sponsored cyber espionage against U.S. companies. Biden will set forth clear demands and specific consequences if China’s government does not cease cyber espionage against U.S. businesses, and will develop new sanctions authorities against Chinese firms that steal U.S. technology that cut them off from accessing the U.S. market and financial system.
  • Establish a “claw-back” provision to force a company to return public investments and tax benefits when they close down jobs here and send them overseas.
  • Apply a carbon adjustment fee against countries that are failing to meet their climate and environmental obligations to make sure that they are forced to internalize the environmental costs they’re now imposing on the rest of the world. This adjustment stops polluting countries from undermining our workers and manufacturers, ensuring we can lead, compete, and win as we harness the opportunity of a clean energy economy achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
  • Reverse tax policies that encourage outsourcing: Biden will end incentives in the Trump tax giveaway that allow multinationals to dramatically lower taxes on income earned overseas and allow the largest, most profitable companies to pay no tax at all. And, Biden will confront global tax secrecy and avoidance, taking on individuals and businesses that stash their profits in tax havens to avoid paying their fair share while tightening anti-inversion rules that Obama-Biden put in place and which Trump has sought to weaken.
  • Support strong and independent trade unions here in the United States and in every one of our trading partners. Unions are essential to democracy, unions are essential to economic stability, unions are essential for building markets for American products, and unions are the right thing to do — everywhere in the world. Biden will enforce existing labor provisions and aggressively push for strong and enforceable labor provisions in any trade deal his administration negotiates — and not sign a deal unless it has those provisions.

SUPPLY AMERICA: BRING BACK CRITICAL SUPPLY CHAINS TO AMERICA

On July 7, Biden laid out his plan to strengthen American resilience by bringing back critical supply chains to America.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought home the imperative that we must never again face shortages of critical products such as medical equipment when confronting a national crisis. An American who is sick in a pandemic shouldn’t be dependent on drugs from China or ventilators that Trump bought from Russia. If there is a global supply shortage, the U.S. could end up at the back of the line — and our competitors could cut us off to gain a strategic advantage.

As we build the American economy back better, Biden will put Americans to work making critical products, from medical equipment and supplies to semiconductors and communications technology, here in the United States.

Under Trump, our supply chains have actually gotten less secure. His 2017 tax legislation cut taxes for companies that move manufacturing and profits overseas, and we’ve seen pharmaceutical imports rise since the tax cuts were enacted. Trump ignored warnings from experts about U.S. medical supply chain vulnerabilities.

Biden will make sure we close critical U.S. supply chain gaps by immediately directing a comprehensive and ongoing process to evaluate and protect key U.S. supply chains, starting with a 100-day supply chain review at the beginning of a Biden Administration to determine vulnerabilities and needs in vital sectors. In addition, he will:

  • Leverage federal buying power and the full range of government authorities, including the Defense Production Act, BARDA, and federal procurement, to make sure that we make critical products in America.
  • Change the tax code to eliminate the incentives for pharmaceutical and other companies to move production overseas and establish new incentives for companies to make critical products in the U.S.
  • Rebuild critical stockpiles, ensure adequate surge manufacturing capacity in times of crisis, and regularly review supply chain vulnerabilities.
  • Work with allies to reduce their dependence on competitors like China while modernizing international trade rules to secure U.S. and allied supply chains.

Together we can make Donald Trump a one term President and defeat Republicans across the country. Donate today:


Near Carlsbad Caverns, oil pads and methane clouds

Carlsbad, New Mexico, is located between two remarkable national parks: the towering Guadalupe Mountains and the glittering Carlsbad Caverns, consisting of 119 caves strung with stalactites. Over the last 19 years, the Rev David Rogers has watched Carslbad transform from a sleepy desert town to a booming outpost of the oil and gas industry’s expansion into the Permian basin.

The basin, rich with fossil fuels, spanning western Texas and south-eastern New Mexico, is a key reason the US is becoming one of the world’s top petroleum producers. Drilling took off during the Obama administration when companies began fracking, and Trump officials have set into motion plans to keep it growing.

But behind that economic success story are untold costs – both to people and the planet.


Brazil meat giant JBS pledges to axe suppliers linked to deforestation

Brazilian meat giant JBS said on Wednesday that it will monitor its entire supply chain by 2025, including problematic “indirect supplier” Amazon farms it currently has no control over, some of which have been linked to illegal deforestation.

“As a company we are assuming our responsibility to be a transformation agent for society, to be a catalyst. To build together with everyone a better world, a more sustainable Amazon and a better Brazil,” said JBS global CEO Gilberto Tomazoni in a virtual launch of the JBS Green Platform.

The announcement marks a turnaround for the world’s biggest meat company. Environmentalists saw it as a positive step, but some said the deadline was too long to resolve such an urgent issue.

Cattle ranching is the biggest driver of deforestation in the Amazon and Brazil has come under increasing pressure from international investors and other countries over rising devastation and fires. With Wednesday’s announcement, JBS is the third Brazilian meat company to begin responding to the pressure.

The company said its Green Platform will use blockchain technology and cattle movement documents, called GTAs (used for sanitary control), and suppliers that fail to cooperate and comply will be blocked from selling to the company. It will initially roll out the platform in Mato Grosso state, which has Brazil’s biggest cattle herd.

“What we are doing will impact the life of future generations in a relevant way,” Tomazoni said.

JBS will invest a minimum of £35m and match other donations to a total of £71m to create a Fund for the Amazon to foster sustainable development in communities in the region. One of Brazil’s leading climate scientists, Carlos Nobre, will serve on the fund’s consultative council. “If it works, it will reduce deforestation, because 80-90% of first deforestation is for cattle pasture,” Nobre said of the new tracing scheme. “This will have to be evaluated.”

The industry’s problems with Amazon suppliers are well documented and were exposed in a 2009 report by Greenpeace. After its release, Brazilian meat companies cut deals with Greenpeace and federal prosecutors and set up complex systems to monitor farms that sell directly to their slaughterhouses.

But in Brazil few cattle farms handle the entire life cycle of their animals, instead sourcing cattle birthed or fattened on other farms – the so-called “indirect suppliers”. And despite promising to monitor these indirect suppliers by 2011 in the deal signed two years earlier with Greenpeace, meat companies JBS, Minerva and Marfrig have so far failed to do so. Since July 2019, five investigations by the Guardian, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Brazilian agency Repórter Brasil, Greenpeace and Amnesty International have linked JBS suppliers to illegal deforestation.

With pressure mounting, major companies have complained to Brazilian ambassadors and met with Brazil’s vice-president, Hamilton Mourão, in charge of its Amazon Council, and congress leaders.

Nordea Asset Management – investment arm of northern Europe’s largest financial services group – dropped JBS from its portfolio in July. Last week a group of European countries – the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership, led by Germany – urged Brazil to take action in the Amazon. On Monday a coalition of NGOs and indigenous groups warned French food retailer Groupe Casino to stop selling beef linked to deforestation in Brazil and Colombia.

In July, Brazilian meat company Marfrig promised to monitor all its suppliers 2025 using systems such as Visipec – developed by the University of Wisconsin and the National Wildlife Federation and made available for free. Meat company Minerva is also testing the Visipec system. Until now, JBS had made promises to resolve its supply chain problems but provided no deadlines.

“This is very good because it recognises that monitoring indirect suppliers is needed. But the deadline is very long,” said Mauro Armelin, executive director of Friends of the Earth for the Brazilian Amazon. “It could already start using Visipec while it develops its own tool, and it should establish deadlines depending on the slaughterhouse, so plants near conservation units and indigenous lands where there is deforestation have shorter deadlines.”

Others were fiercely critical, noting that JBS had promised to monitor its indirect suppliers by 2011.

“The company is now giving itself an additional five years to continue to allow deforestation, illegality and human rights abuses in its supply chain in a bid to appease its investors,” said Greenpeace Brasil’s senior forest campaigner, Adriana Charoux. “This is simply unacceptable. The Amazon will have burned down by then.” She also noted that the JBS Green Platform did not include the Pantanal wetlands or Cerrado regions, where fires are currently raging.

Some investors were also skeptical. “JBS’s 2025 target for tracing cattle is too far away, we need immediate action,” said Jeanett Bergan, head of responsible investments at Norway’s largest pension fund KLP. “It is a positive step but we have to see the detailed evidence in practice, not least given the controversies that have led to the company becoming a major global divestment target.”

Eric Pedersen, head of responsible investments at Nordea Asset Management, said: “While blockchain solutions need time to develop, 2025 is a long way away - and there are other measures that can be effective before that, for instance stricter controls so that cattle is not bought from owners of approved farms, if they also own farms on disputed land.”

Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a coalition of environmental groups, welcomed the plan but said JBS will need government help to make it work. “In theory JBS can do what it is promising. But to guarantee it, they will need help with tracing from state and federal governments.”

Under far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, such help is unlikely, Astrini said. Bolsonaro has refused to admit Brazil has an environmental crisis on its hands. In his speech opening the UN virtual general assembly on Tuesday, Bolsonaro insisted the country was the victim of the “most brutal disinformation campaigns about the Amazon and the Pantanal wetlands.”


Farmer in Chief

It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.

Complicating matters is the fact that the price and abundance of food are not the only problems we face if they were, you could simply follow Nixon’s example, appoint a latter-day Earl Butz as your secretary of agriculture and instruct him or her to do whatever it takes to boost production. But there are reasons to think that the old approach won’t work this time around for one thing, it depends on cheap energy that we can no longer count on. For another, expanding production of industrial agriculture today would require you to sacrifice important values on which you did campaign. Which brings me to the deeper reason you will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change. Unlike food, these are issues you did campaign on — but as you try to address them you will quickly discover that the way we currently grow, process and eat food in America goes to the heart of all three problems and will have to change if we hope to solve them. Let me explain.

After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy — 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact.

In addition to the problems of climate change and America’s oil addiction, you have spoken at length on the campaign trail of the health care crisis. Spending on health care has risen from 5 percent of national income in 1960 to 16 percent today, putting a significant drag on the economy. The goal of ensuring the health of all Americans depends on getting those costs under control. There are several reasons health care has gotten so expensive, but one of the biggest, and perhaps most tractable, is the cost to the system of preventable chronic diseases. Four of the top 10 killers in America today are chronic diseases linked to diet: heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. It is no coincidence that in the years national spending on health care went from 5 percent to 16 percent of national income, spending on food has fallen by a comparable amount — from 18 percent of household income to less than 10 percent. While the surfeit of cheap calories that the U.S. food system has produced since the late 1970s may have taken food prices off the political agenda, this has come at a steep cost to public health. You cannot expect to reform the health care system, much less expand coverage, without confronting the public-health catastrophe that is the modern American diet.

The impact of the American food system on the rest of the world will have implications for your foreign and trade policies as well. In the past several months more than 30 nations have experienced food riots, and so far one government has fallen. Should high grain prices persist and shortages develop, you can expect to see the pendulum shift decisively away from free trade, at least in food. Nations that opened their markets to the global flood of cheap grain (under pressure from previous administrations as well as the World Bank and the I.M.F.) lost so many farmers that they now find their ability to feed their own populations hinges on decisions made in Washington (like your predecessor’s precipitous embrace of biofuels) and on Wall Street. They will now rush to rebuild their own agricultural sectors and then seek to protect them by erecting trade barriers. Expect to hear the phrases “food sovereignty” and “food security” on the lips of every foreign leader you meet. Not only the Doha round, but the whole cause of free trade in agriculture is probably dead, the casualty of a cheap food policy that a scant two years ago seemed like a boon for everyone. It is one of the larger paradoxes of our time that the very same food policies that have contributed to overnutrition in the first world are now contributing to undernutrition in the third. But it turns out that too much food can be nearly as big a problem as too little — a lesson we should keep in mind as we set about designing a new approach to food policy.

Rich or poor, countries struggling with soaring food prices are being forcibly reminded that food is a national-security issue. When a nation loses the ability to substantially feed itself, it is not only at the mercy of global commodity markets but of other governments as well. At issue is not only the availability of food, which may be held hostage by a hostile state, but its safety: as recent scandals in China demonstrate, we have little control over the safety of imported foods. The deliberate contamination of our food presents another national-security threat. At his valedictory press conference in 2004, Tommy Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, offered a chilling warning, saying, “I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.”

This, in brief, is the bad news: the food and agriculture policies you’ve inherited — designed to maximize production at all costs and relying on cheap energy to do so — are in shambles, and the need to address the problems they have caused is acute. The good news is that the twinned crises in food and energy are creating a political environment in which real reform of the food system may actually be possible for the first time in a generation. The American people are paying more attention to food today than they have in decades, worrying not only about its price but about its safety, its provenance and its healthfulness. There is a gathering sense among the public that the industrial-food system is broken. Markets for alternative kinds of food — organic, local, pasture-based, humane — are thriving as never before. All this suggests that a political constituency for change is building and not only on the left: lately, conservative voices have also been raised in support of reform. Writing of the movement back to local food economies, traditional foods (and family meals) and more sustainable farming, The American Conservative magazine editorialized last summer that “this is a conservative cause if ever there was one.”

There are many moving parts to the new food agenda I’m urging you to adopt, but the core idea could not be simpler: we need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine. True, this is easier said than done — fossil fuel is deeply implicated in everything about the way we currently grow food and feed ourselves. To put the food system back on sunlight will require policies to change how things work at every link in the food chain: in the farm field, in the way food is processed and sold and even in the American kitchen and at the American dinner table. Yet the sun still shines down on our land every day, and photosynthesis can still work its wonders wherever it does. If any part of the modern economy can be freed from its dependence on oil and successfully resolarized, surely it is food.

How We Got Here

Before setting out an agenda for reforming the food system, it’s important to understand how that system came to be — and also to appreciate what, for all its many problems, it has accomplished. What our food system does well is precisely what it was designed to do, which is to produce cheap calories in great abundance. It is no small thing for an American to be able to go into a fast-food restaurant and to buy a double cheeseburger, fries and a large Coke for a price equal to less than an hour of labor at the minimum wage — indeed, in the long sweep of history, this represents a remarkable achievement.

It must be recognized that the current food system — characterized by monocultures of corn and soy in the field and cheap calories of fat, sugar and feedlot meat on the table — is not simply the product of the free market. Rather, it is the product of a specific set of government policies that sponsored a shift from solar (and human) energy on the farm to fossil-fuel energy.

Did you notice when you flew over Iowa during the campaign how the land was completely bare — black — from October to April? What you were seeing is the agricultural landscape created by cheap oil. In years past, except in the dead of winter, you would have seen in those fields a checkerboard of different greens: pastures and hayfields for animals, cover crops, perhaps a block of fruit trees. Before the application of oil and natural gas to agriculture, farmers relied on crop diversity (and photosynthesis) both to replenish their soil and to combat pests, as well as to feed themselves and their neighbors. Cheap energy, however, enabled the creation of monocultures, and monocultures in turn vastly increased the productivity both of the American land and the American farmer today the typical corn-belt farmer is single-handedly feeding 140 people.

This did not occur by happenstance. After World War II, the government encouraged the conversion of the munitions industry to fertilizer — ammonium nitrate being the main ingredient of both bombs and chemical fertilizer — and the conversion of nerve-gas research to pesticides. The government also began subsidizing commodity crops, paying farmers by the bushel for all the corn, soybeans, wheat and rice they could produce. One secretary of agriculture after another implored them to plant “fence row to fence row” and to “get big or get out.”

The chief result, especially after the Earl Butz years, was a flood of cheap grain that could be sold for substantially less than it cost farmers to grow because a government check helped make up the difference. As this artificially cheap grain worked its way up the food chain, it drove down the price of all the calories derived from that grain: the high-fructose corn syrup in the Coke, the soy oil in which the potatoes were fried, the meat and cheese in the burger.

Subsidized monocultures of grain also led directly to monocultures of animals: since factory farms could buy grain for less than it cost farmers to grow it, they could now fatten animals more cheaply than farmers could. So America’s meat and dairy animals migrated from farm to feedlot, driving down the price of animal protein to the point where an American can enjoy eating, on average, 190 pounds of meat a year — a half pound every day.

But if taking the animals off farms made a certain kind of economic sense, it made no ecological sense whatever: their waste, formerly regarded as a precious source of fertility on the farm, became a pollutant — factory farms are now one of America’s biggest sources of pollution. As Wendell Berry has tartly observed, to take animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to take an elegant solution — animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete — and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot. The former problem is remedied with fossil-fuel fertilizer the latter is remedied not at all.

What was once a regional food economy is now national and increasingly global in scope — thanks again to fossil fuel. Cheap energy — for trucking food as well as pumping water — is the reason New York City now gets its produce from California rather than from the “Garden State” next door, as it did before the advent of Interstate highways and national trucking networks. More recently, cheap energy has underwritten a globalized food economy in which it makes (or rather, made) economic sense to catch salmon in Alaska, ship it to China to be filleted and then ship the fillets back to California to be eaten or one in which California and Mexico can profitably swap tomatoes back and forth across the border or Denmark and the United States can trade sugar cookies across the Atlantic. About that particular swap the economist Herman Daly once quipped, “Exchanging recipes would surely be more efficient.”

Whatever we may have liked about the era of cheap, oil-based food, it is drawing to a close. Even if we were willing to continue paying the environmental or public-health price, we’re not going to have the cheap energy (or the water) needed to keep the system going, much less expand production. But as is so often the case, a crisis provides opportunity for reform, and the current food crisis presents opportunities that must be seized.

In drafting these proposals, I’ve adhered to a few simple principles of what a 21st-century food system needs to do. First, your administration’s food policy must strive to provide a healthful diet for all our people this means focusing on the quality and diversity (and not merely the quantity) of the calories that American agriculture produces and American eaters consume. Second, your policies should aim to improve the resilience, safety and security of our food supply. Among other things, this means promoting regional food economies both in America and around the world. And lastly, your policies need to reconceive agriculture as part of the solution to environmental problems like climate change.

These goals are admittedly ambitious, yet they will not be difficult to align or advance as long as we keep in mind this One Big Idea: most of the problems our food system faces today are because of its reliance on fossil fuels, and to the extent that our policies wring the oil out of the system and replace it with the energy of the sun, those policies will simultaneously improve the state of our health, our environment and our security.

I. Resolarizing the American Farm

What happens in the field influences every other link of the food chain on up to our meals — if we grow monocultures of corn and soy, we will find the products of processed corn and soy on our plates. Fortunately for your initiative, the federal government has enormous leverage in determining exactly what happens on the 830 million acres of American crop and pasture land.

Today most government farm and food programs are designed to prop up the old system of maximizing production from a handful of subsidized commodity crops grown in monocultures. Even food-assistance programs like WIC and school lunch focus on maximizing quantity rather than quality, typically specifying a minimum number of calories (rather than maximums) and seldom paying more than lip service to nutritional quality. This focus on quantity may have made sense in a time of food scarcity, but today it gives us a school-lunch program that feeds chicken nuggets and Tater Tots to overweight and diabetic children.

Your challenge is to take control of this vast federal machinery and use it to drive a transition to a new solar-food economy, starting on the farm. Right now, the government actively discourages the farmers it subsidizes from growing healthful, fresh food: farmers receiving crop subsidies are prohibited from growing “specialty crops” — farm-bill speak for fruits and vegetables. (This rule was the price exacted by California and Florida produce growers in exchange for going along with subsidies for commodity crops.) Commodity farmers should instead be encouraged to grow as many different crops — including animals — as possible. Why? Because the greater the diversity of crops on a farm, the less the need for both fertilizers and pesticides.

The power of cleverly designed polycultures to produce large amounts of food from little more than soil, water and sunlight has been proved, not only by small-scale “alternative” farmers in the United States but also by large rice-and-fish farmers in China and giant-scale operations (up to 15,000 acres) in places like Argentina. There, in a geography roughly comparable to that of the American farm belt, farmers have traditionally employed an ingenious eight-year rotation of perennial pasture and annual crops: after five years grazing cattle on pasture (and producing the world’s best beef), farmers can then grow three years of grain without applying any fossil-fuel fertilizer. Or, for that matter, many pesticides: the weeds that afflict pasture can’t survive the years of tillage, and the weeds of row crops don’t survive the years of grazing, making herbicides all but unnecessary. There is no reason — save current policy and custom — that American farmers couldn’t grow both high-quality grain and grass-fed beef under such a regime through much of the Midwest. (It should be noted that today’s sky-high grain prices are causing many Argentine farmers to abandon their rotation to grow grain and soybeans exclusively, an environmental disaster in the making.)

Federal policies could do much to encourage this sort of diversified sun farming. Begin with the subsidies: payment levels should reflect the number of different crops farmers grow or the number of days of the year their fields are green — that is, taking advantage of photosynthesis, whether to grow food, replenish the soil or control erosion. If Midwestern farmers simply planted a cover crop after the fall harvest, they would significantly reduce their need for fertilizer, while cutting down on soil erosion. Why don’t farmers do this routinely? Because in recent years fossil-fuel-based fertility has been so much cheaper and easier to use than sun-based fertility.

In addition to rewarding farmers for planting cover crops, we should make it easier for them to apply compost to their fields — a practice that improves not only the fertility of the soil but also its ability to hold water and therefore withstand drought. (There is mounting evidence that it also boosts the nutritional quality of the food grown in it.) The U.S.D.A. estimates that Americans throw out 14 percent of the food they buy much more is wasted by retailers, wholesalers and institutions. A program to make municipal composting of food and yard waste mandatory and then distributing the compost free to area farmers would shrink America’s garbage heap, cut the need for irrigation and fossil-fuel fertilizers in agriculture and improve the nutritional quality of the American diet.

Right now, most of the conservation programs run by the U.S.D.A. are designed on the zero-sum principle: land is either locked up in “conservation” or it is farmed intensively. This either-or approach reflects an outdated belief that modern farming and ranching are inherently destructive, so that the best thing for the environment is to leave land untouched. But we now know how to grow crops and graze animals in systems that will support biodiversity, soil health, clean water and carbon sequestration. The Conservation Stewardship Program, championed by Senator Tom Harkin and included in the 2008 Farm Bill, takes an important step toward rewarding these kinds of practices, but we need to move this approach from the periphery of our farm policy to the very center. Longer term, the government should back ambitious research now under way (at the Land Institute in Kansas and a handful of other places) to “perennialize” commodity agriculture: to breed varieties of wheat, rice and other staple grains that can be grown like prairie grasses — without having to till the soil every year. These perennial grains hold the promise of slashing the fossil fuel now needed to fertilize and till the soil, while protecting farmland from erosion and sequestering significant amounts of carbon.

But that is probably a 50-year project. For today’s agriculture to wean itself from fossil fuel and make optimal use of sunlight, crop plants and animals must once again be married on the farm — as in Wendell Berry’s elegant “solution.” Sunlight nourishes the grasses and grains, the plants nourish the animals, the animals then nourish the soil, which in turn nourishes the next season’s grasses and grains. Animals on pasture can also harvest their own feed and dispose of their own waste — all without our help or fossil fuel.

If this system is so sensible, you might ask, why did it succumb to Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs? In fact there is nothing inherently efficient or economical about raising vast cities of animals in confinement. Three struts, each put into place by federal policy, support the modern CAFO, and the most important of these — the ability to buy grain for less than it costs to grow it — has just been kicked away. The second strut is F.D.A. approval for the routine use of antibiotics in feed, without which the animals in these places could not survive their crowded, filthy and miserable existence. And the third is that the government does not require CAFOs to treat their wastes as it would require human cities of comparable size to do. The F.D.A. should ban the routine use of antibiotics in livestock feed on public-health grounds, now that we have evidence that the practice is leading to the evolution of drug-resistant bacterial diseases and to outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisoning. CAFOs should also be regulated like the factories they are, required to clean up their waste like any other industry or municipality.

It will be argued that moving animals off feedlots and back onto farms will raise the price of meat. It probably will — as it should. You will need to make the case that paying the real cost of meat, and therefore eating less of it, is a good thing for our health, for the environment, for our dwindling reserves of fresh water and for the welfare of the animals. Meat and milk production represent the food industry’s greatest burden on the environment a recent U.N. study estimated that the world’s livestock alone account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gases, more than all forms of transportation combined. (According to one study, a pound of feedlot beef also takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce.) And while animals living on farms will still emit their share of greenhouse gases, grazing them on grass and returning their waste to the soil will substantially offset their carbon hoof prints, as will getting ruminant animals off grain. A bushel of grain takes approximately a half gallon of oil to produce grass can be grown with little more than sunshine.

It will be argued that sun-food agriculture will generally yield less food than fossil-fuel agriculture. This is debatable. The key question you must be prepared to answer is simply this: Can the sort of sustainable agriculture you’re proposing feed the world?

There are a couple of ways to answer this question. The simplest and most honest answer is that we don’t know, because we haven’t tried. But in the same way we now need to learn how to run an industrial economy without cheap fossil fuel, we have no choice but to find out whether sustainable agriculture can produce enough food. The fact is, during the past century, our agricultural research has been directed toward the goal of maximizing production with the help of fossil fuel. There is no reason to think that bringing the same sort of resources to the development of more complex, sun-based agricultural systems wouldn’t produce comparable yields. Today’s organic farmers, operating for the most part without benefit of public investment in research, routinely achieve 80 to 100 percent of conventional yields in grain and, in drought years, frequently exceed conventional yields. (This is because organic soils better retain moisture.) Assuming no further improvement, could the world — with a population expected to peak at 10 billion — survive on these yields?

First, bear in mind that the average yield of world agriculture today is substantially lower than that of modern sustainable farming. According to a recent University of Michigan study, merely bringing international yields up to today’s organic levels could increase the world’s food supply by 50 percent.

The second point to bear in mind is that yield isn’t everything — and growing high-yield commodities is not quite the same thing as growing food. Much of what we’re growing today is not directly eaten as food but processed into low-quality calories of fat and sugar. As the world epidemic of diet-related chronic disease has demonstrated, the sheer quantity of calories that a food system produces improves health only up to a point, but after that, quality and diversity are probably more important. We can expect that a food system that produces somewhat less food but of a higher quality will produce healthier populations.

The final point to consider is that 40 percent of the world’s grain output today is fed to animals 11 percent of the world’s corn and soybean crop is fed to cars and trucks, in the form of biofuels. Provided the developed world can cut its consumption of grain-based animal protein and ethanol, there should be plenty of food for everyone — however we choose to grow it.

In fact, well-designed polyculture systems, incorporating not just grains but vegetables and animals, can produce more food per acre than conventional monocultures, and food of a much higher nutritional value. But this kind of farming is complicated and needs many more hands on the land to make it work. Farming without fossil fuels — performing complex rotations of plants and animals and managing pests without petrochemicals — is labor intensive and takes more skill than merely “driving and spraying,” which is how corn-belt farmers describe what they do for a living.

To grow sufficient amounts of food using sunlight will require more people growing food — millions more. This suggests that sustainable agriculture will be easier to implement in the developing world, where large rural populations remain, than in the West, where they don’t. But what about here in America, where we have only about two million farmers left to feed a population of 300 million? And where farmland is being lost to development at the rate of 2,880 acres a day? Post-oil agriculture will need a lot more people engaged in food production — as farmers and probably also as gardeners.

The sun-food agenda must include programs to train a new generation of farmers and then help put them on the land. The average American farmer today is 55 years old we shouldn’t expect these farmers to embrace the sort of complex ecological approach to agriculture that is called for. Our focus should be on teaching ecological farming systems to students entering land-grant colleges today. For decades now, it has been federal policy to shrink the number of farmers in America by promoting capital-intensive monoculture and consolidation. As a society, we devalued farming as an occupation and encouraged the best students to leave the farm for “better” jobs in the city. We emptied America’s rural counties in order to supply workers to urban factories. To put it bluntly, we now need to reverse course. We need more highly skilled small farmers in more places all across America — not as a matter of nostalgia for the agrarian past but as a matter of national security. For nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil presently do. But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food.

National security also argues for preserving every acre of farmland we can and then making it available to new farmers. We simply will not be able to depend on distant sources of food, and therefore need to preserve every acre of good farmland within a day’s drive of our cities. In the same way that when we came to recognize the supreme ecological value of wetlands we erected high bars to their development, we need to recognize the value of farmland to our national security and require real-estate developers to do “food-system impact statements” before development begins. We should also create tax and zoning incentives for developers to incorporate farmland (as they now do “open space”) in their subdivision plans all those subdivisions now ringing golf courses could someday have diversified farms at their center.

The revival of farming in America, which of course draws on the abiding cultural power of our agrarian heritage, will pay many political and economic dividends. It will lead to robust economic renewal in the countryside. And it will generate tens of millions of new “green jobs,” which is precisely how we need to begin thinking of skilled solar farming: as a vital sector of the 21st-century post-fossil-fuel economy.

II. Reregionalizing the Food System

For your sun-food agenda to succeed, it will have to do a lot more than alter what happens on the farm. The government could help seed a thousand new polyculture farmers in every county in Iowa, but they would promptly fail if the grain elevator remained the only buyer in town and corn and beans were the only crops it would take. Resolarizing the food system means building the infrastructure for a regional food economy — one that can support diversified farming and, by shortening the food chain, reduce the amount of fossil fuel in the American diet.

A decentralized food system offers a great many other benefits as well. Food eaten closer to where it is grown will be fresher and require less processing, making it more nutritious. Whatever may be lost in efficiency by localizing food production is gained in resilience: regional food systems can better withstand all kinds of shocks. When a single factory is grinding 20 million hamburger patties in a week or washing 25 million servings of salad, a single terrorist armed with a canister of toxins can, at a stroke, poison millions. Such a system is equally susceptible to accidental contamination: the bigger and more global the trade in food, the more vulnerable the system is to catastrophe. The best way to protect our food system against such threats is obvious: decentralize it.

Today in America there is soaring demand for local and regional food farmers’ markets, of which the U.S.D.A. estimates there are now 4,700, have become one of the fastest-growing segments of the food market. Community-supported agriculture is booming as well: there are now nearly 1,500 community-supported farms, to which consumers pay an annual fee in exchange for a weekly box of produce through the season. The local-food movement will continue to grow with no help from the government, especially as high fuel prices make distant and out-of-season food, as well as feedlot meat, more expensive. Yet there are several steps the government can take to nurture this market and make local foods more affordable. Here are a few:

Four-Season Farmers’ Markets. Provide grants to towns and cities to build year-round indoor farmers’ markets, on the model of Pike Place in Seattle or the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. To supply these markets, the U.S.D.A. should make grants to rebuild local distribution networks in order to minimize the amount of energy used to move produce within local food sheds.

Agricultural Enterprise Zones. Today the revival of local food economies is being hobbled by a tangle of regulations originally designed to check abuses by the very largest food producers. Farmers should be able to smoke a ham and sell it to their neighbors without making a huge investment in federally approved facilities. Food-safety regulations must be made sensitive to scale and marketplace, so that a small producer selling direct off the farm or at a farmers’ market is not regulated as onerously as a multinational food manufacturer. This is not because local food won’t ever have food-safety problems — it will — only that its problems will be less catastrophic and easier to manage because local food is inherently more traceable and accountable.

Local Meat-Inspection Corps. Perhaps the single greatest impediment to the return of livestock to the land and the revival of local, grass-based meat production is the disappearance of regional slaughter facilities. The big meat processors have been buying up local abattoirs only to close them down as they consolidate, and the U.S.D.A. does little to support the ones that remain. From the department’s perspective, it is a better use of shrinking resources to dispatch its inspectors to a plant slaughtering 400 head an hour than to a regional abattoir slaughtering a dozen. The U.S.D.A. should establish a Local Meat-Inspectors Corps to serve these processors. Expanding on its successful pilot program on Lopez Island in Puget Sound, the U.S.D.A. should also introduce a fleet of mobile abattoirs that would go from farm to farm, processing animals humanely and inexpensively. Nothing would do more to make regional, grass-fed meat fully competitive in the market with feedlot meat.

Establish a Strategic Grain Reserve. In the same way the shift to alternative energy depends on keeping oil prices relatively stable, the sun-food agenda — as well as the food security of billions of people around the world — will benefit from government action to prevent huge swings in commodity prices. A strategic grain reserve, modeled on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, would help achieve this objective and at the same time provide some cushion for world food stocks, which today stand at perilously low levels. Governments should buy and store grain when it is cheap and sell when it is dear, thereby moderating price swings in both directions and discouraging speculation.

Regionalize Federal Food Procurement. In the same way that federal procurement is often used to advance important social goals (like promoting minority-owned businesses), we should require that some minimum percentage of government food purchases — whether for school-lunch programs, military bases or federal prisons — go to producers located within 100 miles of institutions buying the food. We should create incentives for hospitals and universities receiving federal funds to buy fresh local produce. To channel even a small portion of institutional food purchasing to local food would vastly expand regional agriculture and improve the diet of the millions of people these institutions feed.

Create a Federal Definition of “Food.” It makes no sense for government food-assistance dollars, intended to improve the nutritional health of at-risk Americans, to support the consumption of products we know to be unhealthful. Yes, some people will object that for the government to specify what food stamps can and cannot buy smacks of paternalism. Yet we already prohibit the purchase of tobacco and alcohol with food stamps. So why not prohibit something like soda, which is arguably less nutritious than red wine? Because it is, nominally, a food, albeit a “junk food.” We need to stop flattering nutritionally worthless foodlike substances by calling them “junk food” — and instead make clear that such products are not in fact food of any kind. Defining what constitutes real food worthy of federal support will no doubt be controversial (you’ll recall President Reagan’s ketchup imbroglio), but defining food upward may be more politically palatable than defining it down, as Reagan sought to do. One approach would be to rule that, in order to be regarded as a food by the government, an edible substance must contain a certain minimum ratio of micronutrients per calorie of energy. At a stroke, such a definition would improve the quality of school lunch and discourage sales of unhealthful products, since typically only “food” is exempt from local sales tax.

A few other ideas: Food-stamp debit cards should double in value whenever swiped at a farmers’ markets — all of which, by the way, need to be equipped with the Electronic Benefit Transfer card readers that supermarkets already have. We should expand the WIC program that gives farmers’-market vouchers to low-income women with children such programs help attract farmers’ markets to urban neighborhoods where access to fresh produce is often nonexistent. (We should also offer tax incentives to grocery chains willing to build supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods.) Federal food assistance for the elderly should build on a successful program pioneered by the state of Maine that buys low-income seniors a membership in a community-supported farm. All these initiatives have the virtue of advancing two objectives at once: supporting the health of at-risk Americans and the revival of local food economies.

III. Rebuilding America’s Food Culture

In the end, shifting the American diet from a foundation of imported fossil fuel to local sunshine will require changes in our daily lives, which by now are deeply implicated in the economy and culture of fast, cheap and easy food. Making available more healthful and more sustainable food does not guarantee it will be eaten, much less appreciated or enjoyed. We need to use all the tools at our disposal — not just federal policy and public education but the president’s bully pulpit and the example of the first family’s own dinner table — to promote a new culture of food that can undergird your sun-food agenda.

Changing the food culture must begin with our children, and it must begin in the schools. Nearly a half-century ago, President Kennedy announced a national initiative to improve the physical fitness of American children. He did it by elevating the importance of physical education, pressing states to make it a requirement in public schools. We need to bring the same commitment to “edible education” — in Alice Waters’s phrase — by making lunch, in all its dimensions, a mandatory part of the curriculum. On the premise that eating well is a critically important life skill, we need to teach all primary-school students the basics of growing and cooking food and then enjoying it at shared meals.

To change our children’s food culture, we’ll need to plant gardens in every primary school, build fully equipped kitchens, train a new generation of lunchroom ladies (and gentlemen) who can once again cook and teach cooking to children. We should introduce a School Lunch Corps program that forgives federal student loans to culinary-school graduates in exchange for two years of service in the public-school lunch program. And we should immediately increase school-lunch spending per pupil by $1 a day — the minimum amount food-service experts believe it will take to underwrite a shift from fast food in the cafeteria to real food freshly prepared.

But it is not only our children who stand to benefit from public education about food. Today most federal messages about food, from nutrition labeling to the food pyramid, are negotiated with the food industry. The surgeon general should take over from the Department of Agriculture the job of communicating with Americans about their diet. That way we might begin to construct a less equivocal and more effective public-health message about nutrition. Indeed, there is no reason that public-health campaigns about the dangers of obesity and Type 2 diabetes shouldn’t be as tough and as effective as public-health campaigns about the dangers of smoking. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes. The public needs to know and see precisely what that sentence means: blindness amputation early death. All of which can be avoided by a change in diet and lifestyle. A public-health crisis of this magnitude calls for a blunt public-health message, even at the expense of offending the food industry. Judging by the success of recent antismoking campaigns, the savings to the health care system could be substantial.

There are other kinds of information about food that the government can supply or demand. In general we should push for as much transparency in the food system as possible — the other sense in which “sunlight” should be the watchword of our agenda. The F.D.A. should require that every packaged-food product include a second calorie count, indicating how many calories of fossil fuel went into its production. Oil is one of the most important ingredients in our food, and people ought to know just how much of it they’re eating. The government should also throw its support behind putting a second bar code on all food products that, when scanned either in the store or at home (or with a cellphone), brings up on a screen the whole story and pictures of how that product was produced: in the case of crops, images of the farm and lists of agrochemicals used in its production in the case of meat and dairy, descriptions of the animals’ diet and drug regimen, as well as live video feeds of the CAFO where they live and, yes, the slaughterhouse where they die. The very length and complexity of the modern food chain breeds a culture of ignorance and indifference among eaters. Shortening the food chain is one way to create more conscious consumers, but deploying technology to pierce the veil is another.

Finally, there is the power of the example you set in the White House. If what’s needed is a change of culture in America’s thinking about food, then how America’s first household organizes its eating will set the national tone, focusing the light of public attention on the issue and communicating a simple set of values that can guide Americans toward sun-based foods and away from eating oil.

The choice of White House chef is always closely watched, and you would be wise to appoint a figure who is identified with the food movement and committed to cooking simply from fresh local ingredients. Besides feeding you and your family exceptionally well, such a chef would demonstrate how it is possible even in Washington to eat locally for much of the year, and that good food needn’t be fussy or complicated but does depend on good farming. You should make a point of the fact that every night you’re in town, you join your family for dinner in the Executive Residence — at a table. (Surely you remember the Reagans’ TV trays.) And you should also let it be known that the White House observes one meatless day a week — a step that, if all Americans followed suit, would be the equivalent, in carbon saved, of taking 20 million midsize sedans off the road for a year. Let the White House chef post daily menus on the Web, listing the farmers who supplied the food, as well as recipes.

Since enhancing the prestige of farming as an occupation is critical to developing the sun-based regional agriculture we need, the White House should appoint, in addition to a White House chef, a White House farmer. This new post would be charged with implementing what could turn out to be your most symbolically resonant step in building a new American food culture. And that is this: tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden.

When Eleanor Roosevelt did something similar in 1943, she helped start a Victory Garden movement that ended up making a substantial contribution to feeding the nation in wartime. (Less well known is the fact that Roosevelt planted this garden over the objections of the U.S.D.A., which feared home gardening would hurt the American food industry.) By the end of the war, more than 20 million home gardens were supplying 40 percent of the produce consumed in America. The president should throw his support behind a new Victory Garden movement, this one seeking “victory” over three critical challenges we face today: high food prices, poor diets and a sedentary population. Eating from this, the shortest food chain of all, offers anyone with a patch of land a way to reduce their fossil-fuel consumption and help fight climate change. (We should offer grants to cities to build allotment gardens for people without access to land.) Just as important, Victory Gardens offer a way to enlist Americans, in body as well as mind, in the work of feeding themselves and changing the food system — something more ennobling, surely, than merely asking them to shop a little differently.

I don’t need to tell you that ripping out even a section of the White House lawn will be controversial: Americans love their lawns, and the South Lawn is one of the most beautiful in the country. But imagine all the energy, water and petrochemicals it takes to make it that way. (Even for the purposes of this memo, the White House would not disclose its lawn-care regimen.) Yet as deeply as Americans feel about their lawns, the agrarian ideal runs deeper still, and making this particular plot of American land productive, especially if the First Family gets out there and pulls weeds now and again, will provide an image even more stirring than that of a pretty lawn: the image of stewardship of the land, of self-reliance and of making the most of local sunlight to feed one’s family and community. The fact that surplus produce from the South Lawn Victory Garden (and there will be literally tons of it) will be offered to regional food banks will make its own eloquent statement.

You’re probably thinking that growing and eating organic food in the White House carries a certain political risk. It is true you might want to plant iceberg lettuce rather than arugula, at least to start. (Or simply call arugula by its proper American name, as generations of Midwesterners have done: “rocket.”) But it should not be difficult to deflect the charge of elitism sometimes leveled at the sustainable-food movement. Reforming the food system is not inherently a right-or-left issue: for every Whole Foods shopper with roots in the counterculture you can find a family of evangelicals intent on taking control of its family dinner and diet back from the fast-food industry — the culinary equivalent of home schooling. You should support hunting as a particularly sustainable way to eat meat — meat grown without any fossil fuels whatsoever. There is also a strong libertarian component to the sun-food agenda, which seeks to free small producers from the burden of government regulation in order to stoke rural innovation. And what is a higher “family value,” after all, than making time to sit down every night to a shared meal?

Our agenda puts the interests of America’s farmers, families and communities ahead of the fast-food industry’s. For that industry and its apologists to imply that it is somehow more “populist” or egalitarian to hand our food dollars to Burger King or General Mills than to support a struggling local farmer is absurd. Yes, sun food costs more, but the reasons why it does only undercut the charge of elitism: cheap food is only cheap because of government handouts and regulatory indulgence (both of which we will end), not to mention the exploitation of workers, animals and the environment on which its putative “economies” depend. Cheap food is food dishonestly priced — it is in fact unconscionably expensive.

Your sun-food agenda promises to win support across the aisle. It builds on America’s agrarian past, but turns it toward a more sustainable, sophisticated future. It honors the work of American farmers and enlists them in three of the 21st century’s most urgent errands: to move into the post-oil era, to improve the health of the American people and to mitigate climate change. Indeed, it enlists all of us in this great cause by turning food consumers into part-time producers, reconnecting the American people with the American land and demonstrating that we need not choose between the welfare of our families and the health of the environment — that eating less oil and more sunlight will redound to the benefit of both.


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Getting to the bottom of the pile: solving the mystery of piling behaviour

With no obvious cause, piling raises welfare concerns for poultry producers.

Globally, many egg producers are making the switch from conventional cages to non-cage aviary systems for laying hens. The benefit of these open systems is that they allow the hens to move freely from feeders to perches and floors to nest boxes. For birds, this freedom means that they can perform natural behaviours, like ground pecking, scratching and dust bathing. There are downsides to these more open systems though. One of those downsides is piling, which leads to smothering where hens suffocate as a result.

It’s a behaviour that poultry welfare researchers from the Center for Proper Housing, Poultry and Rabbits (ZTHZ) in Switzerland – a collaboration between the University of Bern and Switzerland’s Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office – are trying to better understand.

Hens exhibiting piling behaviour

Led by PhD student Jakob Winter, the project has both explorative and experimental components. The explorative study looks at the underlying mechanisms and associated factors that lead to piling behaviour on Swiss layer farms. The experimental study will try to validate the factors the researchers believe cause piling behaviour. From there, they hope to develop preventative measures to curb the behaviour. Supervised by Ariane Stratmann and Michael Toscano, the project was funded by a grant from the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office.

During the explorative part of the project, Winter and his team visited 13 Swiss farms with flock sizes that ranged between 1,000 and 8,500 birds. The farms were selected based on survey results. The researchers installed cameras and environmental data loggers to monitor temperature fluctuations and gas concentrations. They even made audio recordings to find out whether piling incidents might be triggered by sudden noises that caused the birds to run in alarm.

In open aviary systems, smothering that results from piling is more common than one might think. In the explorative study, for example, smothering incidents occurred in eight of the 13 flocks. Seven of those experienced regular losses of two to five birds per week. One farm lost 60 hens in one single smothering event, a loss that cost him approximately CHF 3,000.

Hens which have been smothered due to piling behaviour

From barn to barn, the duration of piling events differed greatly. Some events lasted just 30 to 90 seconds. Others lasted as long as two hours and 40 minutes. There is increased risk in the longer-lasting piles, said Winter.

The number of events per farm also varied. Whereas one farm experienced just one piling event per day on average, another one had 100 in one day.

“What I think is interesting as well is the location of the piling events because it’s always the same location in the barn where piling is occurring,” said Winters. “If you look at the videos, you can actually predict where the next piling event will occur.”

Winter’s supervisor, Toscano, is also interested in finding out why the birds don’t disperse. “The birds flock when there’s something interesting,” he said. “But, at some point, they should no longer be interested and leave, but they don’t.”

Factors that might contribute to piling include unevenly distributed barn light, temperature differences, sudden mass movement and attraction – as in, one hen pecks at something and raises the curiosity of the others.

To test the potential cause, the researchers chose three factors – light, temperature and a novel object – that might trigger piling, set them up in a test facility and assessed the birds’ responses. All factors could be controlled and switched on and off at will.

Currently, farmers struggle to disperse birds when they begin to pile, as they don’t have a humane dispersal method at their disposal – electric fences are not allowed in Switzerland. The researchers would like to consider different dispersal methods in a future project.

“The federal government wants to develop solutions,” said Toscano. “They want to be able to tell farmers what they can do, and right now they don’t really have any options.”

Markus Schwab, on-site technician at the ZTHZ

For the purpose of this experiment, on-site technician Markus Schwab assisted in the task of developing a welfare-friendly detection and dispersal system. When the infrared detection system he designed picks up on a piling incident, hens are dispersed using feed. This is what has kept them from smothering during the experimental phase.

Until dispersal methods are developed, farmers will have to look closely at the layout of their barn to try to determine which factors are contributing to the piling event.

“Interestingly, it’s always the same corner,” concluded Winter. “That makes me certain that there is something that they can do, that there is something that attracts hens, and that piling is actually the cause of smothering.”

Final results from Winter’s research will be available in the near future. If you would like to find out more, contact Michael Toscano at the Center for Proper Housing, Poultry and Rabbits (ZTHZ) at the University of Bern.


Challenges to meat safety in the 21st century ☆

The safety of meat has been at the forefront of societal concerns in recent years, and indications exist that challenges to meat safety will continue in the future. Major meat safety issues and related challenges include the need to control traditional as well as “new,” “emerging,” or “evolving” pathogenic microorganisms, which may be of increased virulence and low infectious doses, or of resistance to antibiotics or food related stresses. Other microbial pathogen related concerns include cross-contamination of other foods and water with enteric pathogens of animal origin, meat animal manure treatment and disposal issues, foodborne illness surveillance and food attribution activities, and potential use of food safety programs at the farm. Other issues and challenges include food additives and chemical residues, animal identification and traceability issues, the safety and quality of organic and natural products, the need for and development of improved and rapid testing and pathogen detection methodologies for laboratory and field use, regulatory and inspection harmonization issues at the national and international level, determination of responsibilities for zoonotic diseases between animal health and regulatory public health agencies, establishment of risk assessment based food safety objectives, and complete and routine implementation of HACCP at the production and processing level on the basis of food handler training and consumer education. Viral pathogens will continue to be of concern at food service, bacterial pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Campylobacter will continue affecting the safety of raw meat and poultry, while Listeria monocytogenes will be of concern in ready-to-eat processed products. These challenges become more important due to changes in animal production, product processing and distribution increased international trade changing consumer needs and increased preference for minimally processed products increased worldwide meat consumption higher numbers of consumers at-risk for infection and, increased interest, awareness and scrutiny by consumers, news media, and consumer activist groups. Issues such as bovine sponginform encephalopathy will continue to be of interest mostly as a target for eradication, while viral agents affecting food animals, such as avian influenza, will always need attention for prevention or containment.


Contents

The livestock industry not only uses more land than any other human activity it's also one of the largest contributors to water pollution and a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. In this respect, a relevant factor is the produced species' feed conversion efficiency. Additionally taking into account other factors like use of energy, pesticides, land, and nonrenewable resources, beef, lamb, goat, and bison as resources of red meat show the worst efficiency poultry and eggs come out best. [5]

Estimated world livestock numbers (million head) [6]
type 1999 2000 2012 % change 1990-2012
Cattle and Buffaloes 1445 1465 1684 16.5
Pigs 849 856 966 13.8
Poultry 11788 16077 24075 104.2
Sheep and Goats 1795 1811 2165 20.6

Companies Edit

Among the largest meat producers worldwide are:

World beef production Edit

World 66.25 million tonnes (2017) [7] [8] [ unreliable source? ]
Country million tonnes (2017) % Of World
United States 11.91
Brazil 9.55
China 6.90
Argentina 2.84
Australia 2.05
Mexico 1.93
Russia 1.61
France 1.42
Germany 1.14
South Africa 1.01
Turkey 0.99

Critical aspects of the effects of industrial meat production include

    such as steroids and the effect of consuming meat raised with these on human consumers, (see also Beef hormone controversy) [9] , e.g. mad-cow disease (BSE), avian flu, swine influenza (H1N1), avian influenza (H5N1), foot-and-mouth disease, [1] some of which can spread to human consumers is a common practice in the meat industry certain animal rights advocates and groups believe the production of meat is unethical [10] and the industry should be abolished [11] - partially due to overconsumption of meat products

  • cost of state services associated with the above including meat inspection and health care
  • heavy use of ground water for feeding animals , extinction and other species loss especially in the Amazon region or other places where beef cattle are raised in what was formerly rainforested land

Many observers [ who? ] suggest that the expense of dealing with the above is grossly underestimated at present economic metrics and that true/full cost accounting would drastically raise the price [13] of industrial meat. [14] [15] [16] [17]

Effects on livestock workers Edit

American slaughterhouse workers are three times more likely to suffer serious injury than the average American worker. [18] NPR reports that pig and cattle slaughterhouse workers are nearly seven times more likely to suffer repetitive strain injuries than average. [19] The Guardian reports that on average there are two amputations a week involving slaughterhouse workers in the United States. [20] On average, one employee of Tyson Foods, the largest meat producer in America, is injured and amputates a finger or limb per month. [21] The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that over a period of six years, in the UK 78 slaughter workers lost fingers, parts of fingers or limbs, more than 800 workers had serious injuries, and at least 4,500 had to take more than three days off after accidents. [22] In a 2018 study in the Italian Journal of Food Safety, slaughterhouse workers are instructed to wear ear protectors to protect their hearing from the constant screams of animals being killed. [23] A 2004 study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that "excess risks were observed for mortality from all causes, all cancers, and lung cancer" in workers employed in the New Zealand meat processing industry. [24]

The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. If you work in the stick pit [where hogs are killed] for any period of time—that let’s [sic] you kill things but doesn't let you care. You may look a hog in the eye that's walking around in the blood pit with you and think, ‘God, that really isn't a bad looking animal.’ You may want to pet it. Pigs down on the kill floor have come up to nuzzle me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them - beat them to death with a pipe. I can't care.

The act of slaughtering animals, or of raising or transporting animals for slaughter, may engender psychological stress or trauma in the people involved. [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] A 2016 study in Organization indicates, "Regression analyses of data from 10,605 Danish workers across 44 occupations suggest that slaughterhouse workers consistently experience lower physical and psychological well-being along with increased incidences of negative coping behavior." [38] In her thesis submitted to and approved by University of Colorado, Anna Dorovskikh states that slaughterhouse workers are "at risk of Perpetration-Inducted Traumatic Stress, which is a form of posttraumatic stress disorder and results from situations where the concerning subject suffering from PTSD was a causal participant in creating the traumatic situation." [39] A 2009 study by criminologist Amy Fitzgerald indicates, "slaughterhouse employment increases total arrest rates, arrests for violent crimes, arrests for rape, and arrests for other sex offenses in comparison with other industries." [40] As authors from the PTSD Journal explain, "These employees are hired to kill animals, such as pigs and cows that are largely gentle creatures. Carrying out this action requires workers to disconnect from what they are doing and from the creature standing before them. This emotional dissonance can lead to consequences such as domestic violence, social withdrawal, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and PTSD." [41]

Slaughterhouses in the United States commonly illegally employ and exploit underage workers and illegal immigrants. [42] [43] In 2010, Human Rights Watch described slaughterhouse line work in the United States as a human rights crime. [44] In a report by Oxfam America, slaughterhouse workers were observed not being allowed breaks, were often required to wear diapers, and were paid below minimum wage. [45]

Cultured meat (aka "clean meat") potentially offers some advantages in terms of efficiency of resource use and animal welfare. It is, however, still at an early stage of development and its advantages are still contested.

Increasing health care costs for an aging baby boom population suffering from obesity and other food-related diseases, concerns about obesity in children have spurred new ideas about healthy nutrition with less emphasis on meat. [46] [47] [48] [49] [50]

Native wild species like deer and bison in North America would be cheaper [51] and potentially have less impact on the environment. [52] [53] The combination of more wild game meat options and higher costs for natural capital affected by the meat industry could be a building block towards a more sustainable livestock agriculture.

Alternative meat industry Edit

A growing trend towards vegetarian or vegan diets and the Slow Food movement are indicators of a changing consumer conscience in western countries. Producers on the other hand have reacted to consumer concerns by slowly shifting towards ecological or organic farming. The Alternative meat industry is projected to be worth 140 billion in the next 10 years. [54]


Appendix 1: Successful Existing Food Policy Models

The president can point to a number of working examples of successful municipal and regional programs, with robust business models, upon which federal programs can be patterned:

The City of Los Angeles’ “Good Food Pledge⁷³

The state of Michigan’s “Good Food Charter⁷⁴

The state of Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Fund⁷⁵ (made possible in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act⁷⁶)

North Carolina State’s Center for Environmental Food Systems⁷⁷, which has generated knowledge, businesses and jobs to supply the state’s demand and capacity to produce

1. Recognized by President Obama as “one of the great human rights causes of our time.”

2. Genetically modified organism

4. Gilens, M., & Page, B. I. (2014). Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. Perspectives on Politics, 12(3), 564–581. doi:10.1017/S1537592714001595

6. Food and Nutrition Service (Department of Agriculture), Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (Department of Health and Human Services), Institute of Medicine (National Academies), Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (Centers for Disease Control), National Prevention Strategy-Healthy Eating (Office of the Surgeon General), Nutrition Source (Harvard School of Public Health)

11. Jackson, W. and W. Berry. A 50-Year Farm Bill, January 2009

12. Godfrey, H. C. J. et al. “The Future of the Global Food System,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, August 16, 2010

14. Pollan, M. Unhappy Meals, 28 Jan 2007. The New York Times Magazine

17. Rausser, G., Simon, L., & Stevens, R. (2008). Public vs. Private Good Research at Land-Grant Universities. Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, 6(2)

21. Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act Amendments, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“Superfund”)

22. Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture

24. The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture (1996), p. 62

25. Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

26. Kennedy, D. 2013. Science 342:777

27. Bittman, M. The FDA’s Not-Really-Such-Good-News. Opinionator, The New York Times, December 17, 2013