Since politics are about more than just tax cuts and foreign policy: 

There’s no way around it: the Obama administration will need to address food issues head-on.

Last month, Michael Pollan published a sweeping letter to the next president, Farmer in Chief, in the New York Times. After Pollan’s article was published, the American Farmland Trust noted that “there is no topic of greater importance than the issues [Pollan] raises…it is time to elevate these issues to their rightful place on our national agenda.”

Turns out Obama might agree; Obama read Pollan’s article and even worked it into discussions of energy policy.

So what might we expect from an Obama administration when it comes to food policy? Maybe quite a bit. In his plan for rural America, he lays out a number of policy positions that are a departure from the status quo. Obama:

    • Supports subsidies as a safety net, but calls for a $250,000 payment limitation and closing of loopholes, so that the program supports family farmers, not corporate agribusiness.

    • Supports regulation of CAFOs (factory livestock operations).

    • Wants to enforce anti-trust laws that so that smaller farmers can compete against large-scale meatpackers.

    • Wants to cap the size of agricultural businesses that can receive government funds for environmental cleanup so that taxpayers don’t subsidize cleanup for large, polluting corporations.

    • Supports Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat, a critical issue as we learn how widespread melamine contamination of animal feed is in countries like China.

    • Wants to increase support for organic agriculture and local food systems by helping farmers with organic certification/compliance costs.

    • Wants to provide incentives to encourage and support new farmers, land conservation, renewable energy on the farm, and microenterprise for farmers and other rural Americans.

    • Calls for greater food safety surveillance and communications.

    • Plans to encourage local foods in schools.

    • Supports providing farmers with incentives that will prevent agricultural runoff.