chapter  2
34 Pages

Chapter 2U.S. Agricultural Policies and the U.S. Food Industry: Production to Retail

WithArlene Spark

When there is a single power as large as Walmart connecting food processors and food consumers, individual consumers are no longer the food manufacturing industry’s most important customer.

Wenonah Hauter (2012)

For 150 years, food producers have worked intensely, if not intimately, with the House of Representatives and Senate Agricultural Committees and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop what is informally known as the agriculture establishment. This establishment has united in a way to secure federal policies and legislation related to land use and food distribution that support the food industry. This has been done in several ways. First, many members of the Congressional Agricultural Committees are from the Great Plains farm states (see Figure 2.1). Second, committee members serve long terms, sometimes decades. Third, committee members are sometimes replaced with former food industry lobbyists and, conversely, some committee members become lobbyists themselves. As Marion Nestle says, “Today’s public servant is tomorrow’s lobbyist.” The Congressional Agricultural Committees are important targets for the food industry lobby because it is legal to lobby for committee members, whereas it is not permitted for USDA members to interact with lobbyists (Nestle 2007).