Everyone should have access to enough nutritious food to feed their families. Yet more than 33 million people in the U.S. don’t have enough food to support an active, healthy life—including at least 5 million children, a number that is set to increase if some lawmakers in Congress are successful in passing policy changes that will force even more families and children into hunger.
This is why the results of the Farm Bill debates in Congress are so important. Every five years, lawmakers reauthorize this massive piece of legislation, which determines what food is grown, how it’s grown, and how affordable it is. The Farm Bill also funds vital anti-hunger programs that help tens of millions of people every day.
Today, AFSC is working with partner organizations and communities across the country to urge lawmakers to pass a just and equitable Farm Bill for all. In July 2023, AFSC commissioned a new public opinion poll to examine U.S. public attitudes toward agricultural policy, hunger, and climate change. Fortunately, the results revealed that many people in the U.S. agree the Farm Bill should support a food system that provides for people, prioritizes community needs—not corporation profits—and protects the planet. These policy asks align with AFSC’s rallying call for a Just Farm Bill for All.
Most respondents (68%) agree that the Farm Bill should invest in agricultural practices that help reduce the impact of agriculture on climate and the environment. Small-scale farms using regenerative agricultural practices pioneered by indigenous farmers can help mitigate the impact of agriculture on climate change. Congress can also incentivize and support farms with the transition away from agricultural practices that contribute to climate change, such as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) where animals are kept and raised in confinement or the use of fossil fuel-based fertilizers –an underrecognized but significant driver of the climate crisis.
Nearly half (46%) strongly agreed that the Farm Bill should include workplace protections for agricultural workers. Farmworkers are an essential part of the agriculture system with an estimated population of approximately 2.5 million, outnumbering even farmers. Despite that, the Farm Bill lacks sufficient protections for this population. Congress can extend disaster relief authorities to support farm workers, safeguard their health by reducing exposure to harmful pesticides, and strengthen existing interagency efforts to ensure the needs of farmworkers are represented at USDA and other agencies.
The majority (62%) agree that the government (federal, state, or local) should take primary responsibility for ending hunger and improving food access. This support holds steady across most demographics, save for political affiliation: 81% of Democrats and 57% of Independents were more likely to agree that the government holds the most responsibility for addressing food insecurity (compared with 44% of Republicans). An additional split was found among Biden voters (81%) and Trump voters (37%). It should be noted that this question was asked both at the beginning of the poll and at the end of the poll with no significant movement in opinion at the end. Congress should strengthen anti-hunger programs, expand their reach, and access to vulnerable populations and increasingly fund local farms and farmers that grow food for communities not feed for animals and biofuels.
72% support investment in small-scale agriculture projects. These include projects such as school, community and urban gardens. In California, where which AFSC supports small-scale agriculture projects, we found significant support (69%) for increased public investments in these projects.
Overall, our results show strong support for a Farm Bill that prioritizes people and the planet. With positive messaging that emphasizes our shared values, we can appeal to lawmakers to ensure investment in programs that will make our world—and our food—better for all.
The poll was conducted by YouGov with a sample of 1,145 U.S. adults who were sampled in July 2023. This study has a margin of error of +/- 3.36%