WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- While its overall grades on food and farming policy have modestly improved over previous years, Congress has largely fallen short, noted the national nonprofit group Food Policy Action in the release of its 2015 congressional Progress Report.
While the average scores have increased by four points, the 2015 report illustrates a Congress that has so far failed to act on major food policy reforms, including reauthorizing childhood nutrition programs and addressing the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture, among other disappointments.
The Senate was graded on five votes and 10 bills, and the House on 10 votes and support of 12 bills. This year, 116 Members of Congress – 87 in the House of Representatives and 29 in the Senate – received perfect scores of 100 percent, while four Members received less than 10 percent. Compared to last year's grades, 126 House and nine Senate scores decreased while 213 members of the House and 78 in the Senate saw their grades improve.
The average score for new members of the House of Representatives was 42 percent, ten points lower than the full House average. The marks for the newest members of the Senate were over 20 percent lower than the full Senate, with the average score of 45 percent.
Other legislation scored by FPA included the House-adopted bill known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know, or DARK Act, that would block states from adopting laws requiring the labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. The measure, which passed by a vote of 275-150, would also make it virtually impossible for the federal government to adopt a nationwide labeling law, which is something nearly 90 percent of Americans want.
Additionally, both the House and Senate voted on major trade legislation that could have significant implications for the safety of imported foods.
Read the complete 2015 National Food Policy Progress Report here.
"The National Food Policy Scorecard continues to shine a light on what Congress is doing and far too often, not doing to improve the nation's food system," said Tom Colicchio, Food Policy Action Co-Founder and Chef. "Unfortunately, to date this Congress has failed to bring bills forward that would work to fix our broken food system, and ensure that all Americans have equal access to healthy, affordable food."
While Congress has failed to bring to the floor many common sense food policy reforms, average scores did modestly increase because bills like the Older Americans Act and the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act were passed with unanimous bi-partisan support in both chambers.
"Despite a few bright spots, Congress has serious work ahead next year," said Ken Cook, Food Policy Action co-founder and board chairman. "Just like report cards in grade school, this year's progress report should act as a wake up call to many members that they need to get their act together when it comes to their positions on food and farm policy."
Founded in 2012, Food Policy Action is the first national organization to publish an annual scorecard that grades lawmakers on Congressional food policy votes. An advisory council of food policy experts picks which votes are relevant and should be scored. The Food Policy Action Board of Directors approves those choices.
SOURCE Food Policy Action