Wondering where our state and federal candidates for office stand on critical food and farming issues? As the November election nears, here are our suggested questions for the candidates.
Questions for State Candidates:
1. Vermont is faced with an aging farmer population and a low farm succession rate. At the same time, because of high land prices, young and beginning farmers often have trouble accessing land in our state. What policies do you support that would limit the loss of valuable farmland and improve land access for beginning farmers?
2. State and local institutions can be significant sources of support for local producers and food processors. What policies would you support that would encourage institutions to target their food buying power toward local and organic sources?
3. Vermont is known for its long tradition of conventional dairy farming - an industry that is currently in crisis due to unstable pricing and decades of ill-advised growth in farm size. What would you do to encourage diversification within our state and regional food systems, and to incentivize regenerative and organic practices on farms?
Questions for Federal Candidates:
1. Industrial agriculture is responsible for roughly ⅓ of all greenhouse gas emissions. Much of this pollution is due to the excessive use of petrochemicals as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides on farms. What policies do you support that would limit the climate havoc wrought by industrial agriculture? What work have you done already that would address this crucial issue?
2. Many farmers are already taking action to mitigate and adapt to climate change by diversifying their crops and implementing conservation techniques, but some climate-smart practices require significant capital investments. What will you do to support farmers who are working to mitigate climate change and reduce their carbon footprint?
3. Food subsidies have been directly linked to cheap fast food that is implicated in historic obesity, diabetes, and heart disease rates. How would you amend the next Farm Bill’s subsidies and other programs to improve the American diet?
4. Consolidation in the seed and chemical sector has given control over seed and other farm inputs to just a handful of powerful corporations. This threatens biodiversity and food security throughout the world. What will you do to stop mega-mergers between giant agri-chemical companies?
Questions for State and Federal Candidates:
1. Right now, most farmers require second jobs just to make ends meet, regardless of whether they farm 1 or 1,000 acres. In your analysis, what has led to this situation? What can we do to ensure that farmers receive a fair share of the food dollar?
2. Vital pollinators throughout our state and the nation are facing serious population decline, endangering our farm economy and food supply. What policies will you put in place to protect our pollinators?
3. Polls show that upwards of 90% of Americans think genetically engineered foods should be labeled. Do you support mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods?