New Front to Open in Trump’s War on Healthy Food

Monday, January 8, 2018

President Trump is likely to launch new salvos in his full-scale war on healthy food today, when he addresses the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Since taking office, Trump has rolled back decades of food policy progress, including efforts to make food safer and healthier, feed hungry Americans, reduce farm pollution, and make food production more transparent.

His first budget proposed to cut food safety funding by $117 million. He delayed rules to require some farmers to test irrigation water for dangerous pathogens. He opened the door to Chinese chicken, despite what The Washington Post termed “long-standing concerns about China’s poultry farming and slaughter operations.” He nixed rules to alert people about contaminated food. And just last week, Trump indefinitely delayed other key food safety protections.

At the urging of the food industry, Trump has also:

  • Delayed a long-awaited update to nutrition labels that would make calories more prominent and disclose added sugars.
  • Delayed new menu labeling standards.
  • Weakened new rules to drive junk food out of U.S. schools.
  • Mothballed new voluntary sodium guidelines to drive reformulation of salty foods.
  • Reversed a ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in kids.
  • Proposed to eliminate funding for an entire division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that works to reduce obesity.

Trump has also made life tougher for food workers. His appointees recently made it harder for fast-food workers to file complaints with labor watchdogs, and Trump’s labor department has proposed a rule that would allow employers to control restaurant tips.

Trump’s decisions have been especially bad for farmers and farm workers. In addition to threatening farm export markets, Trump dumped rules to ensure that small farmers receive a fair price, ditched rules designed to strengthen organic standards, proposed to eliminate programs that help farmers sell to local consumers, and punted on new rules to protect farm workers from toxic pesticides.

Today Trump will likely crow about so-called regulatory reforms that would forever block agencies like the Department of Agriculture from adopting new protections designed to keep food safe, update food labels, protect workers and provide students with healthier meal options in schools. These same “reforms” put forth initiatives to make our food less healthy, less safe and less transparent, while hamstringing agencies seeking to craft rules that help farmers market their goods.  

Trump has established a well-deserved reputation for having the worst diet of any president in decades. He’s well on his way to recording to the worst food policy record as well. 


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