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New Scorecard Reveals Legislators’ Stance on Good Food Policy Issues

November 17, 2015

FPA Scorecard Allies 3

Map credit: Food Policy Action. You can find more info about the map on page 3 of the scorecard: http://bit.ly/1l6fcu1

A new report was released today that scores federal legislators on food policy issues.

The National Food Policy Score Scorecard: 2015 Progress Report, was compiled by the D.C.-based non-profit organization, Food Policy Action, which was launched in 2012 as a collaborative effort to hold legislators accountable for their votes that impact the food system.

Introducing the scorecard at Campos Community Garden in Manhattan today, chef Tom Colicchio said, “I’m not here because I’m a chef, I’m here because I’m a parent and a good future for my kids includes healthy food, farmers staying on their land, and sustainable agriculture.”

To that end, the scorecard evaluates members of Congress on the votes taken on the most important food-system related legislation considered by the House and Senate during the 114th Congress to date. Legislators’ scores reflect their votes and co-sponsorship of bills on food policy issues including domestic and international hunger, food safety, food access, farm subsidies, animal welfare, food and farm labor, nutrition, food additives, food transparency, local and regional food production, organic farming, and the impacts of food production on the environment.

While the average scores have increased by four points since the first scorecard was released last year, the 2015 report illustrates a Congress that has so far failed to act on major food policy reforms, including reauthorizing childhood nutrition programs and addressing the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture.

The Senate was graded on five votes and support of 10 bills, and the House on 10 votes and support of 12 bills. Examples of specific pieces of legislation that were included in the scorecard are:

  • Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act:  GMO-labeling bill that would grant USDA the sole authority to establish a voluntary and fee-based program for labeling non-GMO and override the public’s vocal desire to know what’s in their food
  • Farm to School Act of 2015:  proposed legislation that would expand support for Farm-to-School programs nationwide, and create incentives to increase participation of beginning, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers
  • Final Trade Authorization: bill signed into law that grants the President “fast track” negotiation authority for certain trade agreements, including the highly controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership

This year, 116 Members of Congress – 87 in the House of Representatives and 29 in the Senate – received perfect scores of 100 percent, while four Members received less than 10 percent. Compared to last year’s grades, 126 House and nine Senate scores decreased while 213 members of the House and 78 in the Senate saw their grades improve.

The average score for new members of the House of Representatives was 42 percent, ten points lower than the full House average. The marks for the newest members of the Senate were over 20 percent lower than the full Senate, with the average score of 45 percent.

Tom Coliccio, Bill Telepan, and Ken Cook give a thumbs-up for legislators who demonstrated a strong voting record on food and farm policy issues. Photo credit: Reana Kovalcik

Chef Tom Colicchio, chef Bill Telepan, and Ken Cook give a thumbs-up for legislators who demonstrated a strong voting record on food and farm policy issues. Photo credit: Reana Kovalcik

Senate Results

In the Senate, 29 members received a perfect score, including several key legislators who determine annual funding priorities, as well as those who are responsible for creating and renewing Congressional support for important programs and policies impacting our country’s food system.

Key Senate appropriators with perfect scores this year include Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Boxer (D-CA), Durbin (D-IL), Leahy (D-VT), Merkley (D-OR), Mikulski (D-MD), Murphy (D-CT), Reed (D-RI), Schatz (D-HI), Tester (D-MT), and Udall (D-NM).

Key Senate “perfect score” authorizers of food and agricultural policy include Senators Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Leahy (D-VT), and Stabenow (D-MI).

Among the Senators contending for the next Presidential nomination, only Bernie Sanders (I-VT) received a perfect score. He was followed by Ted Cruz (R-TX) who received a vote of 75 percent, Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY) who both received a score of 60 percent, and followed lastly by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) with a score of 40 percent.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scored at 40 percent, while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) received a perfect score.

Children and a press conference attendee check out fall plantings at Campos Community Garden in Manhattan after the scorecard announcement. Photo credit: Reana Kovalcik

Children and garden manager Carolyn Zezima check out fall plantings at Campos Community Garden in Manhattan after the scorecard announcement. Photo credit: Reana Kovalcik

House Results

In the House, 87 members received perfect scores, including key positions on the House Appropriations and Agriculture Committees, as well as within the chamber’s leadership.

Key House appropriators with perfect scores include Representatives DeLauro (D-CT-3), Honda (D-CA-17), Kaptur (D-OH-9), Lee (D-CA-13), Lowey (D-NY-17), Pingree (D-ME-1), Ryan (D-OH-13), Serrano (D-NY-15), and Visclosky (D-IN-1).

Key House authorizers of food and ag policy include Representatives Kuster (D-NH-2), McGovern (D-MA-2), Nolan (D-MN-8), and Placket (D-VI).

Additionally, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5) received perfect scores, compared with both House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI-1) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA-23) low scores of just 20 percent.

Additional Resources

Visit Food Policy Action’s scorecard page to find out how your elected officials voted on important food and farming policies in 2015.

The full report can also be downloaded from Food Policy Action’s website.

Read Food Policy Action’s press release on the scorecard here.

Categories: General Interest

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