Michael Pollan sees a farm bill opening

MICHAEL POLLAN SEES A FARM BILL OPENING: Journalist turned author and advocate Michael Pollan sees an “unprecedented opportunity” for the public — including himself — to get involved in food and farm policy after the introduction of Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s alternative farm bill. “I’m hoping to be more engaged,” Pollan said during a press conference that the Oregon Democrat hosted on Thursday to discuss the new legislation, Pro Ag’s Catherine Boudreau reports. The author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” has long advocated for a national food policy that improves Americans’ health and the environment, though he’s rarely spotted on Capitol Hill pushing his position on lawmakers.

“I’ve been in conversations with Earl Blumenauer for 10 years,” Pollan said. “In general, the approach of people in the so-called food movement has been [focused] on small, incremental crumbs. Some have been important; every farm bill cycle, a few crumbs are thrown out, whether they have to do with the environment or farmers markets. But there has not been, until now, the idea of re-envisioning farm and food policy from the ground up. That is galvanizing.”

Increased profile: Pollan thinks Blumenauer’s comprehensive proposal will raise the profile of farm and food issues and create opportunities for the public to get involved in greater numbers.

“That’s my audience,” he said. Pollan keynoted a panel discussion (before an audience filled with millennial Hill staffer types) to coincide with Blumenauer’s formal roll out of his Food and Farm Act, which would overhaul existing farm subsidy and conservation programs, establish two new titles devoted to tackling food waste and promoting animal welfare, and invest more money in nutrition, beginning farmers and agricultural research, among other changes. Here is the bill text and summary.

The legislation has drawn support from a range of interests beyond Pollan, including: Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense; Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S.; and a handful of House Democrats like Rosa DeLauroTim Ryan and Chellie Pingree.

Catherine has more about Blumenauer’s efforts here.

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