Plant-based groups outline wish list for upcoming Farm Bill

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / hatipoglu
© Getty Images / hatipoglu
From leveling the playing field between plant-based and meat and dairy, to increasing investment in plant-based food R&D research and development of plant-based foods and clean meat, leading plant-based advocacy groups are outlining their wish lists for the 2018 Farm Bill.

In a letter​ to leadership and members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA)​ called for leveling the playing field through agricultural policies to support growing consumer demand for plant-based alternatives to animal products.

“Given the growing consumer interest in plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products, PBFA strongly encourages the Committee to consider agricultural policies to promote a more competitive marketplace,”​ said Michele Simon, PBFA’s executive director. “For too long, the status quo has given the conventional meat and dairy sectors an unfair economic advantage; it’s time to level the playing field,”

Specifically, the PBFA has called for: Support for specialty crops; research on plant protein; removing ”anti-competitive” policies to bridge the large competitive gap between commodities and specialty crops; support for organic crops; inclusion of transparency and accountability provisions; and referencing “plant-based foods that are major sources of Nutrients of Concern” in 7 USC Section 3157 under “competitive special and facilities research grants.”

The PBFA’s letter also urges the Committees to not include any provision that limits the use of descriptive terms such as milk, cheese, meat, or egg in food names.  

GFI

Similar points were raised by the Good Food Institute, which sent a letter to every member of Congress. The letter​ laid out four priorities for the Farm Bill:

- Increase investment in research and development of plant-based foods and clean meat;
- Clarify that food producers can use compound names such as “soy milk” and other descriptors on food labels;
- Include commonsense measures to reform checkoff programs; and
- Incentivize the production and consumption of specialty crops and pulses.

“The 2018 farm bill should include R&D funding for plant-based products and clean meat, clarity that food producers can use compound names such as “soy milk” and other descriptors, commonsense measures to reform checkoff programs, and incentives to ensure the production and consumption of specialty crops and pulses,” ​concludes the letter.

The Farm Bill is passed every five years, and a controls all programs run by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), including: commodity programs, rural development, farm credit, trade, conservation, agricultural research, food and nutrition programs, and marketing.

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