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PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Update for food & farm activists 3/2/20

VOTE March 3, 2020
Super Tuesday states:  AL  AR  CA  CO  ME  MA  MN  NC  OK  TN  TX  UT  VT  VA

This update contains 5 topics relevant to FOOD + FARMS + DEMOCRACY in the U.S., as our work is reflected in the 2020 campaign for U.S. president. It was originally sent to two of the major listservs — Regeneration Midwest (a 12-state coalition) and COMFOOD (the oldest and largest “community food security” listserv, hosted by Tufts University).

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE — March 3, 2020

Yesterday, Elizabeth Warren released a new addition to her FOOD & FARM plans:
Dignity for Farmworkers and Food Chain Workers

Like her other plans (the ones that I’ve read), this one is comprehensive — not just a band-aid. The plan covers housing, fair wages, health care, worker safety, child labor, community, etc.


1. OPEN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: Free & Equal Elections (March 4)
3. CLIMATE PROFILES: InsideClimate News
–a. RURAL ISSUES #1:  Post offices (The Nation)
–b. RURAL ISSUES #2:  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (New York Times)
–d. RURAL + URBAN ISSUES: Next USDA Secretary ? 
5. ELIZABETH WARREN’s PLANS: 11 plans in 13 minutes (Gaslit Nation podcast)

1.  OPEN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE:  Free & Equal Elections
Mission — More Voices, More Choices 
“To open the electoral process through education and collaborative action.”
Founded in 2008 by Christina Tobin 

March 4, 2020
2:00 PM Central time
Hilton Chicago Hotel
720 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, Illinois

Attend in person: Tickets $10

This is an alternative debate featuring 21 confirmed candidates, including Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, etc. I think the value of this event will be in a better debate format, better questions, as well as the variety of candidates.

Here are 4 candidates that I think would be of especial interest to food & farm folks.
MARK CHARLES, independent
I think Hawkins is well known to food & farm folks, especially from New York.
GLORIA LA RIVA, Party for Socialism and Liberation
Running mate is Leonard Peltier (Indigenous rights leader and yes, he’s still leading from prison). Gloria La Riva is a labor, community, and anti-war activist based in San Francisco.

Where the 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand on Food and Farming

Thanks to Civil Eats for continuing to document the food & farm platforms of the leading candidates. Good substance & detail.

3.  CLIMATE PROFILES of presidential candidates: InsideClimate News
Nine candidates are profiled (8 Democrats, 1 Republican)

These profiles are well done. Not too long, but plenty of substance including details on agriculture, fracking, coal. Includes ICN’s evaluation of each candidate (Our Take).


a. RURAL ISSUES #1: Post Offices
Post Offices are the Lifeblood of Rural America
by John Nichols
The Nation, Feb. 28, 2020

Michael Bloomberg is showing his ignorance regarding rural issues and farming. John Nichols has been taking the opportunity to highlight issues important to farmers and other rural residents. This is Nichols’s latest. Worth following on Twitter. A lifelong Wisconsin resident, based in Madison.

b.  RURAL ISSUES #2: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Dems, want to Defeat Trump? Form a team of rivals
by Thomas Friedman, New York Times

Recently New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman played a parlor game, assigning top Democratic candidates to the top positions in the Executive branch—President, Vice President, the cabinet.

Unfortunately, he left out the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Did he forget about this cabinet position, or was he unable to find a candidate to fill that slot?

According to various “White House gov” sites, there are 15 “executive departments”. Friedman also left the Departments of Interior, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs unfilled, but did “create” a new cabinet post, secretary of infrastructure. Maybe Friedman includes natural infrastructure–soil, air, water—in his definition. Somehow I doubt it.

Whether Thomas Friedman forgot about the USDA or was unable to find a candidate to “name” as Secretary, omitting it says something about urban people’s consciousness (lack thereof). 

Do urban and suburban voters — including officials and candidates — know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is not only about farming in rural areas? Do urban voters know that the USDA is involved in policy and appropriations for
—urban agriculture
—farm-to-school programs (cafeteria, school gardens, food system curricula)
—farmers markets
—local & regional food
—food labeling — including USDA Certified Organic

d.  RURAL + URBAN ISSUE: Next USDA Secretary — proposals from food & farm folks?
I’d be interested to know if any presidential candidates are exploring names for their Secretary of Agriculture yet, if in fact Trump is defeated. I agree with Friedman’s idea of making such short lists public—sooner rather than later. 

Better yet, are any food & farm organizations making suggestions for the next USDA Secretary? either publicly or in private (to individual candidates)? Maybe we can create some election buzz about some good candidates that most food & farm folks can support. This might put “food & farm” on the election map.

5.  ELIZABETH WARREN’s PLANS:  11 plans in 13 minutes
How to Trump and Putin-Proof our Democracy
Feb. 25, 2020, Gaslit Nation podcast
Sarah Kendzior: Scholar & journalist based in St. Louis, Missouri
Andrea Chalupa: Film-maker based in New York City

Segment: 18-31 minutes. The plans highlighted are information warfare, violent white supremacy, transnational crime, election integrity, big money in politics, the climate crisis, the dangers of big tech, strengthening public schools, free college and forgiving student debt, dismantling corruption in Washingtongetting rid of the electoral college

These plans and many others can be viewed on Warren’s Plans page.

The value of this segment is that Kendzior and Chalupa are 100% tapped into what’s really happening in the U.S. (and world) and can clearly articulate the issues, how everything is interconnected, while also expressing their own humanity & concerns. Clear thinkers, clear speakers. They have endorsed Warren. Even if you don’t vote for Warren, you will benefit from their analysis (in my opinion). 

Plus here is Warren’s food & farm plan (not discussed on the podcast): New Farm Economy

Full disclosure: I have endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president.