Will Big Soda Lead on Food Policy for Trump?

Here’s a story for people who nurture dark fears about the food industry. Quartz reports that a veteran lobbyist for the American Beverage Association – “big soda” – will lead the transition team on food policy for President-elect Donald Trump. Michael K. Torrey is point man for Trump’s team at the USDA.

Torrey collected more than $800,000 in lobbying fees from the beverage industry over the last four years. While that sounds like a lot of money, it’s a tiny fraction of what industry spends. CSPI reported last year that the beverage industry has spent $100 million on lobbying to fight labeling and taxation issues since 2009. But Torrey has also collected lobbying fees from Dean Foods Company, WhiteWave Foods, Little Caesars, the Snack Food Association, and soybean producers.

The beverage industry’s critics might be in shock, but farmers are thrilled. President and CEO Chuck Conner of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives said he hardly slept through the night of the election. He noted that his stakeholders enthusiastically supported Trump:

Rural America stepped up, but they stepped up because things are pretty tough out there. There’s a natural expectation out there that Donald Trump is the white knight and his cabinet is right there beside him. They are going to come in and fix this and we’re going to have $5 corn and no regulation, and exports are going to boom.

For people who see the food industry as the enemy, things are not so rosy. Outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama made food policy her signature issue. So public health is losing a food policy advocate.

By contrast, President-elect Trump has a personal preference for fast food. Incoming First Lady Melania Trump wants to make cyberbullying her signature issue. So things might go a little quiet at pretty soon.

Watch this space.

Click here for more from Quartz, and here for more from Mother Jones. Here you’ll find more from Eater, and here is more from the Progressive Farmer.

Refreshment, photograph © frankieleon / flickr

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November 12, 2016