The American agricultural industry is big business, affects the entire nation (and some others), yet the majority of our presidential hopefuls have spent very little time tackling this beast of an issue. Big Agriculture, cutely nicknamed Big Ag, is the industrialization of our food systems. A system that is only a few decades old but has greatly - and most notably - negatively impacted our planet. The main culprit of course is animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust of transportation. With the presidential elections right around the corner, let’s explore which candidate is going to stand up to this industry and truly make better and more sustainable decisions for this country and our planet.
BERNIE SANDERS (DEM):
Sanders has a strong record for protecting the rights of the people especially the most disenfranchised. In his campaign, he actually addresses agriculture for its strain on the environment. His solution? Small farms. We all now know that a vegan diet is the most sustainable diet for our bodies and even in combatting climate change. Though he hasn’t jumped on the vegan train just yet, his support of small farmers allows for greater genetic diversity and practices that are less harmful for the local environment.
HILLARY CLINTON (DEM):
On the other democratic side, Clinton has been a visible supporter of GMOs and the biotech industry since she worked at the Rose Law Firm in the 1980s. Clinton’s campaign website doesn’t even mention anything on big agriculture and its effects on climate change, but we can assume why. However, she does support “rural america” by supporting small farms and local economies. It’s just a shame her record proves otherwise.
TED CRUZ (REP):
Ted Cruz also doesn’t mention agriculture as an issue on his campaign website. But if we examine his record, we know that he has opposed the Renewable Fuel Standard, the 2014 Farm Bill, and he wants to get rid of farm subsidies altogether. His thoughts on climate change: “Climate change is not science. It’s religion.” It’s safe to assume he doesn’t get the bigger picture here. Next!
DONALD TRUMP (REP):
Donald Trump doesn’t have a lot of positions or ideas for that matter when it comes to policy so it’s no surprise Big Ag isn’t something he’s really spoken on. What we do know to be true is his lack of support for immigrant workers and that he refutes climate change just as much as Cruz. He stated, “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” I don’t think anything else needs to be said of this man.
JOHN KASICH (REP):
Following suit, Kasich also doesn’t see Big Ag as an issue. Unfortunately, he’s too busy defending his candidacy to even speak on food systems. But surprisingly enough, he does “believe” in climate change. Maybe there’s hope for Kasich after all.
JILL STEIN (GREEN):
Jill Stein called a moratorium on GMOs just in 2015 until “proven safe.” Very appropriate for the green party candidate. She’s the rally cry for sustainable living, a just society, and protecting our eco-systems. Though Dr. Stein doesn’t answer the question when asked if she is in fact vegan, her proposed policies could undoubtedly improve the health of our planet.
While the goal here is not to get political, it is important that we truly make informed decisions when it comes to who we vote for. If we are going to live in better harmony with the planet, our food systems should be a priority especially for the person who will be running our country for the next 4 years. Get informed, stay proactive, and vote wisely.