Protecting Food. Empowering Whistleblowers.

Food Integrity Campaign Blog

To Fight Climate Change, Protect Food System Whistleblowers

Food Integrity Campaign | March 13, 2018

The Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) is unique because it offers free and reduced cost legal services to whistleblowers, including those from the federal government. Federal employees have sought our help for years in exposing wrongdoing that threatens food safety and public health. Given the changes in the new administration, we at FIC are particularly concerned about the public servants who work on food system-based solutions to climate change—and we want to help.

Many agricultural practices contribute to climate change, which harms agricultural systems. Livestock and poultry production alone account for nearly 15% of human-induced climate change. By 2050, experts predict widespread declines across U.S. agriculture due to extreme, volatile weather patterns, which will also disrupt trade patterns and increase food prices.

Yet, certain agriculture practices can help stop climate change—and create farms that can better withstand the volatile weather that climate change brings. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, land grant universities, and other federal agencies promote fighting climate change through agriculture. Interventions that fight climate change include cover crops, crop rotation, buffers of native plants, and pasture management. These practices can reduce soil erosion and fertilizer run-off, all while building up carbon storage in the soil.

FIC applauds the federal employees who promote these practices. USDA Climate Hubs, for instance, serve as regional clearinghouses for best practices for producers to adapt to climate change as well as information about changes already happening. A USDA report published under the Obama Administration, “USDA Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry,” describes federal efforts to promote better crop and livestock practices.

These are just two government initiatives from one agency—there are many more public servants working to address climate change via scientific research, technical assistance, and public outreach. It’s essential work, work to be proud of—and it makes the Trump Administration’s approach to it all the more baffling and, frankly, infuriating.

For starters, why has the Trump Administration cut funding for climate change programs? Why has it reassigned employees who study climate change to completely unrelated positions? Why did Trump appointees tell USDA employees to stop saying climate change and instead say “extreme weather”? Why isn’t the Trump administration changing lingering programs that still support industrial agricultural practices over sustainable ones?

We can’t afford to roll back progress in supporting food system-based solutions to climate change—the situation is already too dire.

FIC can help. If something’s standing between a federal employee and their work on climate change and food systems, we want to know. FIC has resources to help federal employees blow the whistle safely and with legal protection. Anyone fighting to speak their truth is a hero to us, and we will do what it takes to protect them.