Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 28, 2022

Contact:

Mark Rifkin, (410) 227-6161, MRifkin@biologicaldiversity.org

10 Biden Administration Actions for Sustainable Food

White House Hunger Strategy Lacks Climate, Food-Security Urgency

WASHINGTON— Today’s White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health is jumpstarting a critical conversation about food and nutrition security. The Biden administration acknowledges the connection between climate change and food security, but its proposal lacks the urgency to address the existential threat the climate emergency poses to agriculture and the availability of nutritious food.

“The national hunger strategy is a step in the right direction, but it falls far short of addressing the urgency of the climate emergency,” said Mark Rifkin, senior food and agriculture policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “President Biden needs to take bold executive action now. We don’t have time to wait for Congress to act.”

To achieve the conference’s priorities, the president can use his executive authority to reduce agricultural emissions and pollution that undermine the nation’s ability to continue producing nutritious food. The Center recommends that Biden take these 10 executive actions:

  1. Declare a climate emergency to unlock executive powers that can reduce global deforestation and the overproduction of high-emissions foods.
  2. Create an advisory committee to guide implementation of the conference’s national strategy.
  3. Align food policy and programs across agencies with the administration’s climate goals.
  4. End financial bailouts for resource-intensive foods and shift funding to sustainable solutions and support for Black and Indigenous farmers and other farmers of color.
  5. Update federal food service guidelines to adopt plant-based menus as the standard in all federal facilities.
  6. Fully integrate sustainability into the Dietary Guidelines process.
  7. Increase access to plant-based options in school meals, including non-dairy milks.
  8. Develop a public health education campaign to increase awareness about the connection between diet and climate and advance the shift toward plant-based eating.
  9. Review the impacts of commodity check-off programs on sustainability and small and mid-sized farmers.
  10. Improve oversight of the agriculture industry, particularly related to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

“It’s great that the Biden administration acknowledged the connection between climate and diet, but more research won’t change the dangerous trajectory we’re on,” said Rifkin. “The administration needs to incorporate real climate action into all food and agriculture policies and programs to meaningfully address hunger, nutrition and health.”

Climate-related emergencies including drought, extreme heat, flooding and severe storms — along with biodiversity loss and agricultural pollution — are threatening food production, water security and environmental justice. Meanwhile, longstanding epidemics of chronic disease and food insecurity, compounded by the Covid pandemic, undermine communities’ ability to face these crises.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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