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Presidential Politics + Food & Farm Justice: Starting with Impeachment….

Slightly edited version of a posting made to three major U.S. food-and-farm listservs:
COMFOOD (Tufts Univ.)
Food Policy Networks – FPN (Johns Hopkins Univ.)
Regeneration Midwest (serving 12 states)

4. PRESIDENTIAL PLATFORMS on food-and-farm

1. INTRODUCTION: Food-and-farm justice post-2016 election
In 2017, journalist John Nichols (The Nation; based in Madison, WI) wrote a “Field Guide” to the members of Trump’s cabinet (Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse). Here is the opening sentence of the chapter on the USDA. 

“There is a good argument to be made that Donald Trump, New Yorker from birth and urban to his core, did not even know the United States had a secretary of agriculture when he decided to run for president.”

Nichols continues:
“Though Trump swept farm country in the election of 2016, winning more than 90 percent of the nation’s rural counties, that was not because the Republican presidential nominee offered a coherent program for the renewal of regions that have been battered not just by agribusiness consolidation but by the deindustrialization of small towns and small cities. Trump ran well because the Democratic Party of Franklin Roosevelt and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Farm Security Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and rural electrification forgot how to speak to farm families and voters in small-town America Hillary Clinton did not even show up to campaign in key farm states, while Trump made the trip. There is no evidence to suggest, however, that he paid attention to anything but his own voice.

“So it was that, as the president-elect and his transition team “staffed up,” there was a glaring omission. No one was nominated to head the Department of Agriculture, a sprawling agency with a $155 billion budget and a staff of more than a hundred thousand, in the immediate aftermath of the election. November passed and no one was named. December passed….”

I don’t think I have to copy verbatim the next two paragraphs for these food-and-farm listservs. A day before Trump’s inauguration (Jan. 20), Sonny Perdue, “a career politician” (not a farmer or a food expert) was nominated. But then Trump forgot about the nomination and the position, neglecting to send in the official paperwork to the Senate until the first weeks of March.

“’They don’t seem to have a reason as to why his name hasn’t come up,’ griped Senator Grassley….Vox headlined a March 8 assessment of the mess, ‘The weird mystery of the Trump administration’s agriculture secretary vacancy’….”

Nichols rightly concludes: “There was no mystery. Sonny Perdue was an afterthought….” 

That’s because agriculture was an afterthought to the Trump administration. As is food, as is justice of any kind.

So now, almost 2.5 years into the Trump administration, is there anyone on these listservs that think this group of rich people are going to do anything positive for food-and-farm justice?  Have they done anything positive?  Did I miss something?

More to the point of this email, here are three developments and other information on the presidential politics front that may be of interest to folks working on “food, farms, and democracy”:

2. Beginning an IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY: Actions anyone can take
a. June 15 or 16: Attend a grassroots #ImpeachTrumpNow rally (or schedule your own)
Map of 141 events (and counting)

b. Follow on Twitter (you don’t have to have a Twitter account)
By The People (most active grassroots group)
The Impeachment Project legal reasons for impeachment

c. Official resolution — H.Res.257
Ask your U.S. Congressperson (member of House of Representatives) to co-sponsor House Resolution 257.
“Inquiring whether the House of Reps. should impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America”

Currently 13 co-sponsors:
Rep. Rashida Tlaib  D MI 13
Rep. Green, Al [D-TX-9]*
Rep. Pressley, Ayanna [D-MA-7]
Rep. Omar, Ilhan [D-MN-5]
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria [D-NY-14]
Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2]
Rep. Vela, Filemon [D-TX-34]
Rep. Blumenauer, Earl [D-OR-3]
Rep. DeGette, Diana [D-CO-1]
Rep. Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13]
Rep. Thompson, Bennie G. [D-MS-2]
Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. [D-CA-32]
Rep. Fudge, Marcia D-OH 11

Approx. 40+ other MOCs have called for impeachment proceedings, including one Republican (Justin Amash – MI) but they have not signed onto the resolution yet.

d.  QUESTION: Have any food-and-farm groups — e.g., Food Policy Councils — officially called for impeachment?  I’d be happy to promote any group’s action.

Seeking input
Liz Henderson (New York farmer & activist) and others have been collecting “questions about food & agriculture for presidential candidates”.

I believe she’s still taking suggestions:

4. PRESIDENTIAL PLATFORMS on food-and-farm
26 candidates listed (24 Dems, 2 Repubs) on Civil Eats
Where the 2020 presidential candidates stand on food-and-farming

I have no specific information on any plans to highlight food-and-farm justice in any debates. Here’s what I do know.

a. First Democratic debate is June 26.

b. No climate crisis debate? Complain to Democratic legislators, party officials
Democratic National Committee (DNC) recently announced that there will be no stand-alone debate on climate. Many climate activists think this is big mistake, given the short time frame we have to reduce emissions and sequester carbon (and given that previous debates did not ask any climate questions). I haven’t heard of any concerted effort to change this, but it’s always good to voice your opinion.

Mark Charles
As of June 1, we now have another candidate for president, running as an independent.  Mark Charles, of Navajo-Dutch ancestry, is running on a platform starting with a national “truth & conciliation” process on “race, gender, and class”.  His campaign video explains why.  I found it very inspiring and similar to my own proposals to re-write the U.S. Constitution so that we can all be involved.

So far he has no specific food-and-farm messaging (apart from sovereign lands and the question of land ownership). Someone to watch, I believe.

— “truth & conciliation committee”  #TCC2021
— Not just “We the People” but  #AllThePeople
Excellent background article by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye (June 2, 2019 for Indian Country)