Around the country, resistance to the Trump administration’s policies have spurred a political awakening. These first-time candidates are running on food and farm policy platforms.
The Trump presidency has been marked by tumult and confusion, but also a reinvigorated sense of engagement with politics, particularly among American progressives. This new-found anger is manifesting as fierce resistance to the Trump administration’s positions and policies, and it is also bringing many new faces into the political arena, as first-time candidates channel their anger toward unseating long-time politicians.
Among the many political newcomers running in this year’s elections are a great number of candidates who seek to represent their communities’ shifting priorities around food and farm policy. As federal regulatory battles around factory farm pollution, agribusiness consolidation, local food, and farmland access come to a head, new political leaders are emerging at the local, regional, and state levels.
Civil Eats recently spoke with some of these emerging voices. Their interests and backgrounds range broadly, but together they’re fighting for reform on many of today’s top agricultural issues. (If you know of others, please let us know.)
Austin Frerick has received national attention since he launched his campaign for Congress last August. The seventh-generation Iowan is quite different fromDavid Young, the incumbent he’s challenging. At age 28, Frerick is 21 years younger, a Democrat, and a vocal advocate for social and economic justice. Two of his heroes are RuPaul and Louis Brandeis. In a battleground state with complicated farm politics, he’s a voice for younger environment and agriculture advocates who want to see a change to the status quo.
A staunchly anti-monopoly candidate, Frerick has come out against the Monsanto/Bayer merger and other consolidation efforts in the agriculture industry. And he’s trained his sights on Iowa’s powerful agricultural players. “Iowa has [seen a] collapse in commodity prices over the last few years. It’s on everyone’s minds,” he told Civil Eats. But, “we’re seeing the pillars of the agriculture community, like [the American Farm Bureau Federation], not speaking up.”