Consumers who buy organic food and help fatten the coffers of grocers such as Whole Foods Market Inc. have a new tool to rate lawmakers on food issues.
Food Policy Action, which includes as partners Stonyfield Farms Inc., Environmental Working Group, Oxfam America, the Humane Society of the U.S. and Bread for the World, released its first National Food Policy Scorecard, tracking members of Congress based of their votes on issues from cuts to food stamps to the pending 2012 farm-policy bill.
Interest in food issues beyond Farm Belt states is sincere, growing and important as spending on subsidies increases and the U.S. and world population grows, says David Beckmann, head of Washington-based Bread for the World. The idea is to give those voters tools to help make choices, making food a bigger campaign issues in congressional elections.
“We’re trying to translate a very powerful public concern about healthy, environmentally friendly, socially just food into voter action,” he says. Large agribusinesses “have been able to have more influence on global food and farm policy for a long time, so all the groups that represent everyone else need to come together to say we can do better.”
The scorecard of members of Congress gave perfect scores to 50, all Democrats except Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent. Three Republican lawmakers scored zero.
Among leaders of the Agriculture committees, Senate chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, rated 61 and House ranking Democrat Collin Peterson of Minnesota received a 57. Republican Reo, Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, chairman of the House panel, scored 36, and Pat Roberts of Kansas, senior Republican on the Senate panel, had 17.