First Vegan Lobbying Interest Headed to Washington

Washington DC

Former Silicon Valley Engineer turned vegan activist, Laura Reese has partnered up with Lobbyists 4 Good to convince congress to incentivize American farmers to raise more plants and less livestock. She says that today’s animal farmers face an uncertain future. “The market is in upheaval. More customers are avoiding animal protein, and seeking out nutrients from plant based products. Plus, these farmers face rising input costs. For example, as water becomes more scarce with global warming, the most affected farming will be that of raising livestock. Animal protein requires up to twenty times as much water calorie for calorie.”

Through Lobbyists 4 Good, a crowdfunding platform that allows everyday Americans to bring their message straight to Congress, she’s making her case. Her campaign has raised more than $5500 from nearly 100 individual donors who support her cause. It’s enough money to fund one month of lobbying. She’s in DC to help deliver that message. And she hopes to raise more money so the lobbyists can continue pushing for her proposal after she departs.

She’s calling for a pilot program to help animal farmers transition into producing food for the rapidly growing plant-based market. Hers is the first vegan lobbying effort with lobbyists4good.org – a non-profit that brings everyday people’s voices to Congress. in United States history. Their goal? To redirect subsides and instead give that funding to farmers who make the switch to plant based farming.

According to Plant Based Foods Association the sales in plant based foods in the US has grown 8.1 percent from 2017 to 2018[1]. With the rise in plant based food options, Reese looked into the effect that the surge had on the food and agriculture market. What she found was that the animal agriculture industry has incentives to produce regardless of declining market demand, because of government subsidies. In 2018 farmers produced an excess of 1.39 million pounds of cheese,[2] and an excess of 2.5 billion chickens, turkeys, pork and beef[3] with no consumer demand for surplus. The billions of pounds of excess meat and dairy are sitting in storage warehouses and paid for by the US taxpayer.[4]

It isn’t just the taxpayer that’s getting the short end. Reese explains “we taxpayers are paying corporate farms to produce more meat and dairy into markets already overflowing with meat and dairy, exacerbating global warming, and sticking our children with the bill.”

“With a lowered demand these government subsidies are undermining the free market.” Says Reese. “Farmers are stuck in an oversaturated market. Without increased demand, it’s not sustainable. We want to help create opportunities for farmers to get off the public dole and to break into these growing plant based markets.”
Reese adopted a plant based diet about two years ago, and soon afterward came to discover the devastating impact of animal agriculture on the environment. Then she learned her government was subsidizing animal farmers.

Reese explains “I realized that no matter how much we voted against animal agriculture with our consumer dollars, our very own government was negating those votes with our tax dollars,” Reese said. She further learned through the famous 2006 FAO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, that 1.5 billion head of cattle globally emitted 35-40% of anthropogenic methane – a potent greenhouse gas that is more than 100 times stronger than CO2 when measured over a 10 year timeline. “This is the fight of our lives,” she said. “If we don’t take drastic action now, my generation, Gen X, will be generation extinction.”

Reese first joined up with Lobbyists 4 Good when she contacted it’s founder, Billy DeLancey shortly after his AMA on reddit.com. “I thought of Reagan, and asked myself, if not me, then who? If not now, then when?” Reese said. The would-be lobbyist joins a groundswell of vegan activists who’ve begun calling for political action. The primary leader in this nascent movement, the Vegan Justice League (https://vegnews.com/…/animal-activist-launches-vegan…), (www.veganjusticeleague.com) led by Connie Spence, is organizing vegans to lobby Congress to bring supply and demand back to the US farm bill.

The goal is to stop subsidizing the production of animal products into an already glutted market. Reese agrees with the VJL mission. “If we all get more vocal with our political representatives, they might start listening. Maybe they’ll stop legislating subsidies for an industry that is harming our planet, is making us sick, and that’s based on the exploitation of animals who love their families like we do, who fear like we do, and who are capable of suffering just as we are.”

[1] https://plantbasedfoods.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/NeilsenOne-PagerResults-1.pdf

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/28/americas-cheese-stockpile-just-hit-an-all-time-high/?utm_term=.ad7c814349bb

[3] https://www.wsj.com/articles/meat-piles-up-as-production-grows-and-exports-slow-1532268000

[4] https://www.capitalpress.com/ag_sectors/dairy/usda-cheese-purchase-a-disappointment/article_b28cef09-cc45-5b56-aa83-db83088e58e4.html

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