Letter: 40 Health Organizations Unite to Deliver Farm Policy Recommendations

The current structure of our food system contributes significantly to poor health: from agriculture being 11% of our greenhouse gas emissions making climate change worse to a crop subsidy system that makes unhealthy and processed foods cheaply available, to industrial farming that results in more toxic chemicals and polluted air, water, and soil. We must create food systems that are sustainable, local, and regionalized and make quality foods (like fruits and vegetables) more available and affordable. Congress will debate the reauthorization of the Farm Bill this year, which represents an important opportunity for health professionals to provide their recommendations to design food systems that mitigate climate change, protect health, and promote equity.

The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health delivered a letter with 40 health and public health professional associations from around the country to the US Senate and House Committees on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry with our set of recommendations to:

  1. Support healthy foods, healthy people, and healthy communities by improving access to SNAP, increasing investments in healthy and nutritious foods, bolstering support for local and regional food systems, and reducing food waste.
  2. Support healthy farms and a healthy planet by increasing support for conservation programs and sustainable and organic agriculture.
  3. Support a fair and just farm system by investing in rural communities through greater access to credit and technical assistance.
  4. Support expanded research to develop the tools to make our food and farm system healthy, sustainable, and resilient.

The unprecedented heat waves and new regions of the US blanketed in wildfire smoke remind us that climate change is harming our health now, and these harms will escalate dramatically without significant action. Health professionals’ advocacy has already helped shape significant legislative action, including the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Together, we can build on these achievements by providing recommendations for a Farm Bill that prioritizes health and a stable climate.

Read our letter here.