How much power farmers have to shape the American diet

Robert Howrigan Junior on his Fairfax, VT dairy farm. Photo: Sarah Harris

The Daily Meal has released its third annual list of America's 50 Most Powerful People in Food, and The Family Farmer ranked dead last, at #50.  But, hey, at least they made the list!

Folks at the foodie website explains the criterion:

"Is each person on our list capable, whether by dint of corporate station, media access, moral authority, or sheer personality, of substantially changing, improving, and/or degrading the quality and variety of the American diet or the way we think about it? If so, how absolute is the power he or she can bring to bear?"

Leading the pack:

1. Jack Menzel, Production Managing Director, and Bernardo Hernandez, Director of Product Management and Managing Director for Zagat, and thei rteams, Google

2. Hugh Grant, Chairman, President, and CEO, The Monsanto Company

3. Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Commissioner of Food, Food and Drug Administration

Also on the list: Donald Thompson, Vice Chairman and CEO at McDonalds(#7),  Pete Wells, Restaurant Critic at the New York Times(#14), and Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States(#24).


Of The Family Farmer, The Daily Meal says,

 "The family farmers of America — by which we mean the multi-farm entrepreneurs and small-scale independent operators who actually get their hands dirty in American soil — ought to be number one on our list. No one — no distributor or retailer of food, no pesticide manufacturer, no writer or chef or food-themed crusader — ought to have more influence ultimately than the men and women who actually grow our fruits and vegetables and raise our livestock."


According to the website, "…87 percent of the farms in the country are owned by individuals or couples who operate them. Only 3 percent of our farms, in contrast, are what would qualify as agribusiness — but they produce more than a third of what we eat and lobby for their interests far more strenuously than small farmers can do. Agribusiness dominates agriculture."

The Daily Meal says the 9-month extension of the Farm Bill hasn't helped things, "The family farmer seems increasingly powerless. We'd love to see that situation change. We'd love to see family farmers back where they belong."

You can take a look for yourself here:



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  1. We ought to be number one, but, most of us would rather complain than get involved. We've let others, with an agenda very different from ours, tell the farm story and define us.

  2. One more person missing from that list is ME. Now I don't have any power to change America's food habits or farm policy, but I do have massive (well 50%) say in what gets eaten in our house. Be it local beef, perfect red tomatoes, giant crispy carrots, or kale picked in December, I had a direct hand in our food policy here, and my role increases with each year that passes.
    Wanna change the way folks eat…plant a garden. Start close to home, feed your friends, trade raspberries for turkey. Shop at the farmers market. Eat local….those guys can't touch you.