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You Need to Know: Where the 2016 Presidential Candidates Stand on Food Policy

I wrangled all the information I could find -- from tweets to votes -- to see where the candidates stand on issues of food policy, from climate change and fracking to the minimum wage and GMO foods.
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Voter Registration Application for presidential election 2016
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At this point in the campaign race, we know the candidates' beliefs on issues like war, immigration and Wall Street. But what about food?

I wrangled all the information I could find--from tweets to votes--to see where the candidates stand on issues of food policy. Keep in mind, I'm not saying who's right or wrong, just pulling together quotes and votes to help us understand how each candidate views the issues.

If I have noted "No public comment available" but you know of a public comment, please add it to the comments below with a link to the original source.

Hillary Clinton


On food security: Clinton has tweeted: "What happens to kids in families cut from unemployment insurance & food stamps? They're #2SmallToFail, & deserve an equal chance to succeed."

On climate change: After the Paris Agreement in December 2015, Clinton released a statement, saying: "This is an historic step forward in meeting one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century--the global crisis of climate change... We cannot afford to be slowed by the climate skeptics or deterred by the defeatists who doubt America's ability to meet this challenge."

On fracking: According to Grist, "She's all for it. She says it needs to be conducted and regulated properly so it doesn't cause excessive environmental harm, but she believes that can be done. Which puts her totally in line with President Obama, and out of line with most of the environmental community."

On farm subsidies: According to Ballotpedia: "Clinton voted in favor of an amendment to HR 2419 - Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, that would have limited the amount of subsidies that married couples deriving a portion of their income from farming or related activities could receive."

On junk food: "Hillary Appoints Former Junk Food Lobbyist As Head Of Black Outreach," states a headline on Alternet. Judge as you will.

On Fair Labor Standards for farm workers: As Secretary of State, Clinton called Laura Germino, a campaign coordinator for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an "anti-trafficking hero."

On the minimum wage: Clinton supports raising the minimum wage to $15 in New York and $12 elsewhere.

On antibiotics for farm animals: The Humane Society writes: "Clinton's record is that she has taken a leadership role in efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals... Clinton spearheaded efforts in Congress to study the effects of certain antibiotics in animal feeds and to prohibit the USDA from buying chickens for the federal school lunch program that have been injected with cipro-like antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. Her successful efforts on the antibiotic issue have helped people and animals, and have informed her outlook on the broader issues related to the production of animals on industrial factory farms."

On GMO foods: "I stand in favor of using seeds and products that have a proven track record," Clinton said at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) convention. "The term 'genetically modified' sounds Frankensteinish and turns people off. Drought-resistant sounds really like something you'd want. There is a big gap between what the facts are, and what the perceptions are."

Clinton has various ties to Monsanto through the Clinton Global Initiative, her Super PAC and the Clinton Foundation.

On pesticides: No public comment available.

On food safety: She spoke on C-Span about Global Food Safety in 2012. Check it out here.

On supporting new farmers: Clinton plans to double federal funding for a new farmer education program as well as and build her "Farm-to-Fork" initiative by "doubling funding for farmers markets and direct food sales."

Bernie Sanders

On food security: According to Feel the Bern, he has supported SNAP benefits and "a diverse array of other nutrition-impacting pieces of legislation."

On climate change: "I happen to believe that climate change is the great environmental crisis that we face, and what the scientist [sic] tell us is that if we do not get our act together in the near future, a bad situation will become much worse."

On fracking: According to Feel the Bern, "Bernie is proud that Vermont has banned fracking, and believes the entire United States should adopt similar measures."

On farm subsidies: Sanders' website states: "It is unacceptable that the top 10% of farms collect 75% of farm subsidies, while the bottom 62% do not receive any subsidies. We have to adopt policies that will turn this around."

On junk food: No public opinion available.

On Fair Labor Standards for farm workers
: Sanders has stated: "The norm is a disaster, and the extreme is slavery" in regards to the working conditions of the Immokalee tomato farmers.

On the minimum wage: Sanders introduced legislation for a $15 minimum wage for all workers, including fast food and restaurant workers.

On antibiotics for farm animals: No public opinion available.

On GMO foods: According to Feel the Bern, Sanders supports allowing states to require labels on foods containing GMOs based on the consumer's right-to-know, but does not believe that GMOs are necessarily bad. "People have a right to know what is in the food they're eating," he has said.

Sanders authored an amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill to allow states to require food labeling. The amendment was defeated 71 to 27.

On pesticides
: No public comment available.

On food safety: Sanders was against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), writing, "The TPP would make it easier for countries like Vietnam to export contaminated fish and seafood into the U.S."

On supporting new farmers: Feel the Bern states: "Bernie also supports the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011, a bill that would expand and improve opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers as well as institute several responsible environmental provisions."

Jeb Bush

On food security: "Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is calling for an end to the federal food stamp program as part of a proposed revamp of the nation's welfare system," reports the Washington Post. "Bush would end the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, generally known as food stamps, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Instead, state governments would be able to apply for new federal 'Right to Rise' grants to pay for programs launched to assist lower-income residents."

On climate change
: "I'm not sure I would have gone to the climate summit if I was president today... The climate is changing, it's been changing forever. The question is how much of it is impacted by man and what impact is that and how long will that impact play out," NBC reports Bush saying.

"The climate is changing; I don't think anybody can argue it's not. Human activity has contributed to it. I think we have a responsibility to adapt to what the possibilities are without destroying our economy, without hollowing out our industrial core," he told Bloomberg.

On fracking: During a speech in October 2013, Bush advocated for the "approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, 'rational' regulations on fracking, and opening federal lands to drilling," according to Politico.

On farm subsidies: "Bush said crop insurance was critical to Florida producers when he was governor," reports The Progressive Farmer. "He pointed to various hurricanes as well as crop diseases such as citrus greening. 'The crop-insurance industry creates a stability that makes it possible in very volatile kinds of situations for farmers to be able to be successful.'"

On junk food: "Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush took a jab at an app, being developed with federal funds, that aims to teach parents how to get kids to eat their vegetables," reports The Boston Globe. "The game, he said, is a waste of 'scarce resources.'"

On Fair Labor Standards for farm workers: From The American Prospect: "Earlier this year, Gov. Jeb Bush partly dismantled Florida's Department of Labor, for reasons of 'efficiency.' Last year the newly 'streamlined' department's farm-labor and labor-contractor staff issued (statewide) 188 violations, for a variety of offenses regarding insurance and paperwork improperly filed by labor contractors. Only a few of these involved failure to pay wages. By contrast, 107 citations were written for improperly labeled or sized tomatoes. In other words, many more citations were written for imperfect fruit than for workers being improperly housed, beaten, stiffed or enslaved."

On the minimum wage: "We need to leave it to the private sector. I think state minimum wages are fine. The federal government shouldn't be doing this... But the federal government doing this will make it harder and harder for the first rung of the ladder to be reached, particularly for young people, particularly for people that have less education."

On antibiotics for farm animals
: No public comment available.

On GMO foods: "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said GMOs allow farmers to deal with droughts and produce higher yields," reported KCCI Des Moines.

"We should not try to make it harder for that kind of innovation to exist. We should celebrate it."

On pesticides: Bush proposed new laws in Florida that included stipulations that farm workers would be warned when exposed to pesticides.

On food safety: No public comment available.

On supporting new farmers: According to On the Issues, Bush signed the Southern Governors' Association resolution, which works to "encourage new farmers to enter agriculture production with incentives and other programs such as capital gains taxes, new tax-deferred savings accounts and deferred loans."

Ben Carson
Photo: Elvert Barnes

On food security: In an interview with Politico, Carson stated: "We take the downtrodden in our society and we pat them on the head... We say 'There, there, you poor little thing. I'm gonna give you health care. I'm gonna give you housing subsidies, I'm gonna give you food stamps. You don't have to worry about anything. What that has done is create generation upon generation of people who just live that way, waiting for government handouts."

On climate change: "Whether we are experiencing global warming or a coming ice age, which was predicted in the 1970s, we as responsible human beings must be concerned about our surroundings and what we will pass on to future generations. However, to use climate change as an excuse not to develop our God-given resources makes little sense. Expanding our wealth of energy resources, as well as encouraging the development of new renewable energy sources, would provide an enormous economic lift with obvious benefits, but it also would bolster our role as a formidable player in the struggle for world leadership."

On fracking: He writes in America the Beautiful: "Whether America's ensuing steps into war in Afghanistan and Iraq will be seen as positive or negative remains to be seen, but I can't help thinking there may have been a better way to react that would not have cost us so many lives and financial capital. I believe that if the president had seized the moment and declared that we would become petroleum independent within the next 10 years as part of our effort to strip terrorism of its resources, that business, industry, academia, and everyone else would have been foursquare behind him, and we would have been much further ahead in the fight against terrorism than we are today... an enormous number of jobs likely would have been created in the process of switching over to a new energy source, and Wall Street would have been booming; third, the environmentalists would have been ecstatic; and fourth, but most importantly, the terrorists would have been deprived of much needed funding, which would have gradually strangled their efforts."

On food waste: No public opinion available.

On farm subsidies: During the third Republican debate, Carson stated: "The best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies and get the government out of our lives and let people rise and fall based on how good they are." He claims he would phase out agricultural subsidies over 10 years.

On junk food: He, himself, has given up all junk food and eats mostly vegetarian.

On Fair Labor Standards for farm workers: Carson has voiced his support for a guest worker program but has not spoken directly about Fair Labor Standards for farmers.

On the minimum wage: He has changed his opinion on this a few times, sometimes for a minimum wage increase, and sometimes not.

On antibiotics for farm animals: No public opinion available.

On GMO foods: "I actually like for people to know what they're buying. I like for people to know what they're eating. And I think it's only fair for them to be able to see that... There's a whole spectrum of what is a GMO, and there's a lot of hype, quite frankly, and propaganda surrounding GMOs. The fact of the matter is, as science progresses, and you know, we learn how to, you know, inject a gene for instance that will make a plant very unpalatable for certain pests, we'll probably use that technology. That technically is going to be a GMO....So what we really have to do is be logical about it, and not be hysterical about it, and recognize that we do make progress."

On pesticides
: Carson has suggested a link between pesticides and cancer.

On food safety
: No public opinion available.

On supporting new farmers: No public opinion available.

Ted Cruz
Photo: Marc Nozell

On food security: Cruz's statement on the Farm Bill vote: "Any meaningful support for farmers and ranchers in this trillion-dollar bill is unnecessarily held hostage to the unchecked growth of food stamp entitlements and numerous other programs unrelated to farming...Nearly 80 percent of it consists of a massive expansion in food stamps, trapping millions in long-term dependency."

On climate change: "The scientific evidence doesn't support global warming. For the last 18 years, the satellite data - we have satellites that monitor the atmosphere. The satellites that actually measure the temperature showed no significant warming whatsoever... Climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory for a big government politician who wants more power. Why? Because it is a theory that can never be disproven."

On fracking: At the seventh Republican debate, Cruz stated: "I think God has blessed this country with enormous natural resources, and we should pursue all of the above. We should be developing oil, and gas, and coal, and nuclear, and wind, and solar, and ethanol, and biofuels."

On farm subsidies: "Whether it is ObamaCare or crop insurance, when you have the federal government stepping in it ends up limiting choices and driving up prices," he has said. "I'd like to see farmers have more options, more choices, be able to buy insurance on a national market. I believe social safety nets should be a trampoline and not hemp."

On Fair Labor Standards for farm workers: No public comment available.

On the minimum wage: "If you raise the minimum wage, the inevitable effect will be, number one, young people will lose their jobs or not be able to get their first jobs," he told He has also introduced a bill to set a minimum wage of $110,000 for H-1B workers.

On antibiotics for farm animals
: No public comment available.

On pesticides: No public comment available.

On food safety: No public comment available.

On supporting new farmers: No public comment available.

John Kasich
Photo: Marc Nozell

On food security: Mother Jones reports: "In 1996, then-Congressman John Kasich cosponsored a welfare reform bill that, for the first time ever, put a time limit on recipients' access to food stamps. Healthy, childless adults would be able to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for no more than three months in any three-year period, unless they were employed or in a training program for at least 20 hours a week." The USDA has ranked Ohio among the worst states for food security.

On climate change
: "I happen to believe there is a problem with climate change," he told the Hill in 2012. "I don't want to overreact to it, I can't measure it all, but I respect the creation that the Lord has given us and I want to make sure we protect it."

On fracking: In 2012, Kasich supported legislation that "accounted for newly accessible shale gas and embraced Ohio's renewable energy and efficiency targets as vital to the state's economy."

Ballotpedia notes that, "As governor, Kasich signed a bill that allowed drilling for oil and gas in Ohio state parks and on other state-owned land."

On farm subsidies: According to Ballotpedia, "In 1997, John Kasich voted in favor of an amendment to an agricultural bill that would have prevented any funds gained from the bill from being used to subsidize crop insurance for tobacco."

On junk food: No public comment available.

On Fair Labor Standards for farm workers: No public comment available.

On the minimum wage: "Have it be reasonable," Kasich told MLive, "because you could have unintended consequences if you start imposing a high wage, which could actually lead to fast-food restaurants putting in kiosks and middle-management people being upset that they can't get a raise."

On antibiotics for farm animals: No public comment available.

On GMO foods: No public comment available.

On pesticides: "Ohio's new fertilizer law, which was signed by Gov. John Kasich in May -- will require most farmers who want to apply fertilizer to their fields to become state-certified by Sept. 30, 2017, and adhere to various other rules and recommendations -- all aimed at keeping nutrients in the fields and out of the water," reports Farm and Dairy.

On food safety: No public comment available.

On supporting new farmers: No public comment available.

Marco Rubio

On food security
: In response to the 2013 Farm Bill, he stated: "Food stamp programs are an important part of our safety net, but we should have a separate debate on these and other anti-poverty programs with the goal of empowering states to better design these programs to help their people escape poverty."

On climate change: "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it... Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that's directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activities."

On fracking: The New York Times reported that Rubio's energy policy "would rely on drilling and hydraulic fracturing."

On farm subsidies: In 2013, Rubio voted against the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act which, "amends the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, repeals direct payments to farmers, and amends crop insurance programs," then voted for another amendment which sought "to limit the amount of premium subsidy provided by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation on behalf of any person or legal entity with an average adjusted gross income in excess of $750,000, with a delayed application of the limitation until completion of a study on the effects of the limitation." And in 2012, Rubio voted "to table an amendment...that reduces the amount of sugar subsidies for the 2012-2014 crop years, and repeals all sugar subsidies in the 2015 crop year."

On junk food: No public comment available.

On Fair Labor Standards for farm workers: No public comment available on this particular issue. He has said the U.S. needs a "modernized agricultural worker program" that "allows our growers to contract the seasonal and year round labor they need legally."

On the minimum wage: "If I thought that raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their pay, I would be all for it, but it isn't. In the 20th century, it's a disaster. If you raise the minimum wage, you're going to make people more expensive than a machine. And that means all this automation that's replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated. Here's the best way to raise wages: Make America the best place in the world to start a business or expand an existing business."

On antibiotics for farm animals: No public comment available.

On GMO foods: Rubio was one of the 71 senators who voted against the GMO labeling amendment introduced by Sanders.

On pesticides: No public comment available.

On food safety: No public comment available.

On supporting new farmers: No public comment available.

Donald Trump


On food security
: In Time to Get Tough, Trump writes: "The food stamp program was originally created as temporary assistance for families with momentary times of need. And it shouldn't be needed often. Thankfully, 96 percent of America's poor parents say their children never suffer even a day of hunger. But when half of food stamp recipients have been on the dole for nearly a decade, something is clearly wrong, and some of it has to do with fraud."

In 2013 Trump posted to Facebook, "No cuts to welfare, no cuts to food stamps & NOT A SINGLE CUT TO OBAMACARE, yet the new budget cuts military benefits. Sad!"

On climate change: In 2012, Trump tweeted, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." Then, in 2014 he called climate change "a hoax."

On fracking: Trump has stated: "We should just be able to drill our own oil. As long as it's there we certainly should have approved it."

In Time to Get Tough, he writes that our natural gas reserves can give Americans "more time to innovate and develop newer, more efficient, cleaner, and cheaper forms of energy."

On farm subsidies: No public comment available.

On junk food: No public comment available.

On Fair Labor Standards for farm workers: No public comment available.

On the minimum wage: "I think having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country," he told MSNBC's Morning Joe.

On antibiotics for farm animals
: No public comment available.

On GMO foods: Trump tweeted "@mygreenhippo #BenCarson is now leading in the #polls in #Iowa. Too much #Monsanto in the #corn creates issues in the brain? #Trump #GOP." He later removed the comment.

On pesticides: No public comment available.

On supporting new farmers: No public comment available.

"Correction: An earlier version of this post inaccurately attributed a quote to Senator Sanders. Sanders has no publicly available comments on pesticide use."

Originally published on Plate Online.

Eve Turow Paul is the author of A Taste of Generation Yum. Follow Eve on Facebook and Twitter @EveTurow, and learn more about her book, here!

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