Move Over Ag, We Need a Secretary of Food

In yesterday’s New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristoff addressed President-elect Obama’s soon-to-be-made choice for Secretary of Agriculture, asking whether or not a “U.S. Department of Food” would better reflect the change our country needs to see realized in our food policy. 

Kristoff notes that “a Department of Agriculture made sense 100 years ago when 35 percent of Americans engaged in farming.  But today, fewer than 2 percent are farmers.  In contrast, 100 percent of Americans eat.”  As such, what we need now “is actually a bold reformer in a position renamed ‘secretary of food.'”

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Team Obama In Action: The Outlook for EPA

Given today’s announcement of Obama’s likely appointment of Lisa Jackson as Administrator of the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA), how will the Obama platform impact the policy issues of importance to CLF?

Environmental Policy and the Clean Air Act

Major changes in air pollution and climate change policy are expected under the Obama Administration.  Obama’s environmental platform calls for an 80 pecent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Many anticipate President-elect Obama to direct the EPA to use the Clean Air Act of 1990 as a guideline for setting carbon dioxide emission limits on power plants and other facilities.  It is also expected that Obama will sign the California auto-emission waiver, rejected by President Bush, which would require that greenhouse gas emission from vehicles are cut by 30 percent by 2016.  With the help of incoming House Energy and Commerce Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), a strong supporter of environmental issues, these initiatives may be possible. 

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Where’s the Grain?

Note: This is a response to an editorial posted in the New York Times.

Thursday’s Editorial (“The World Food Crisis,” New York Times, April 10, 2008) questioned the environmental and ethical impact of corn ethanol production. The question is: With more people and less grain, should we put the food in our gas tanks or in our stomachs?

It’s a good question. Here is another one: With more people and less grain, should we put so much grain into cows?

In the United States 70 percent of the corn harvest is fed to livestock.

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