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National Food Policy Scorecard Measures Congress’ Performance on Major Food Issues

October 17, 2016


Image Credit: Food Policy Action

Today, Food Policy Action (FPA) released its 2016 National Food Policy Scorecard (“Scorecard”), a unique and interactive tool to help the public understand how Congress members have performed (or underperformed) on food-related policy issues. FPA is a non-profit organization headed by co-founders Ken Cook (also of the Environmental Working Group) and Chef Tom Colicchio, which endeavors to educate the public on how their Congress members are working towards or against achieving good food policy.

FPA uses their Scorecard to translate congressional stances and policy actions into a single, tangible number. Each Senator and Representative’s “score” is represented as a number between 0 and 100.

“We want to make a difference because ultimately, having good food champions in Congress will change food policy for the better…I cannot say it enough; food matters in elections,” said Food Policy Action Co-Founder and Board Chairman, Ken Cook.

FPA’s Scorecard highlights issues of food and agricultural policy for the public by shining a spotlight on those FPA deems as congressional food policy champions, as well as Senators and Representatives who FPA considers to be failing to adequately address current food and agriculture challenges. FPA scores Congress members across a range of food-related legislation, covering issues including but not limited to: animal welfare; nutrition programs including farm-to-school and SNAP; farm labor; organic farming; and environmentally sound farm production. The major focus this year seems to be placed on child nutritional programs, which makes sense given that the last Child Nutrition Act reauthorization (CNR) expired in September 2016 and has yet to be reauthorized.

Image Credit: Food Policy Action.

2016 National Food Policy Scorecard Map. Image Credit: Food Policy Action.

Some of the most significant pieces of legislation in the Scorecard analysis included:

  • Animal Welfare in Agricultural Research Endeavors Act: in an effort to ensure the humane and ethical treatment of animals at a national level, this act serves to amend the Animal Welfare Act to apply humane treatment standards for federal animal laboratory facilities.
  • Farm to School Act of 2015: an Act to increase funding for Farm to School programs and expand the scope of the program in order to include pre-schools. (House).
  • The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 (also known as, the DARK Act): a bill that would allow for states to exempt themselves from the GMO labeling process, and would, in effect, keep consumers “in the dark” about what they are consuming. (House).
  • School Food Modernization Act: an effort to improve food programs at schools by providing technical assistance, grants for infrastructure, and more resources for schools to access healthful foods. (Senate).

Senate Scorecard Highlights

Senators’ scores were based on 10 votes and 12 bills. Among Senators, only three received perfect scores: Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) – a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) – member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry committee, and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT). Eighteen other Senators, however, received scores of 90 or above.

House Scorecard Highlights

House Representatives’ scores were based on 16 votes and 15 bills. Overall, there were 78 Representatives with perfect scores – nine fewer than last year’s count. Of the 78 with perfect scores, nine are on the House Committee on Appropriations and two are on the House Committee on Agriculture.

House appropriators with perfect scores included: Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), Pete Visclosky (D-IA-1), Jose Serrano (D-NY-15), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Mike Honda (D-CA-17), Tim Ryan (D-Oh-13) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1). There were also seven other Appropriations Committee members with scores of 90 or above.

Agriculture Committee members with scores of 100 included: Jim McGovern (D-MA-2) and Stacey Plaskett (D-US Virgin Islands). Six Agriculture Committee members scored 90 or above.

Categories: General Interest

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