Mixed Signals on Trump Food Policy

Food policy wonks are agitated and confused. Many of them worry about withdrawal from the lavish attention their pet issues received from the soon to be former First Lady Michelle Obama. Some, who are more sympathetic to the food industry, see an opening. But the signals are decidedly mixed on Trump Food Policy.

Early in the transition, a soda and food lobbyist – Michael Torrey – held the lead position for transition at Department of Agriculture. But now he’s out. Politico reports that he resigned after Trump declared that all transition team members would have to give up lobbying for five years. Joel Leftwich, a Republican staff director for the Senate Agriculture Committee has replaced him. He brings five years of experience as a legislative assistant to Republican Pat Roberts and two years as a policy and government affairs director for Pepsi.

Maybe big soda still has a foot in the door.

At any rate, the food industry sees an opening. The Food and Beverage Industry Alliance is proposing a delay in implementating the new Nutrition Facts label, says Politico. While “fully committed to making all the mandated changes,” the industry is seeking ways to slow down the process. They want to wait for a final resolution of GMO labeling requirements. That might take a while.

Expressing alarm, CSPI policy director Jim O’Hara said, “The effect of this is stopping the Nutrition Facts panel, whatever the intent may be.”

This state of high anxiety about Trump food policy is likely to persist. We expect more mixed signals and uncertainty as Trump pursues higher priorities. President Trump may just let Republican legislators play with food policy. Apart from his personal enjoyment of fast food, Trump has never shown much interest.

Click here for more from Food Dive and here for more from Politico.

Clarity, photograph © Jon Wiley / flickr

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November 26, 2016