The FARMS Act: For Public Health

A True Health Crisis

Government spending to treat diet-related diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, accounts for 54% of the $383.6 billion dollars in health care costs to treat these conditions. Think of the lives and dollars that could be saved if people had access to diets that prevent these diseases in the first place.1 AFA proposes the Farm and Ranch Mobility Solutions Act (FARMS) as diet-smart Ag policy that can be part of the solution. Here’s why:

Experts recommend adults consume between 21 and 38 grams of fiber daily, but Americans, on average, consume only about sixteen grams.2

It’s been estimated that suboptimal fruit and vegetable consumption accounts for the loss of approximately 139,000 American lives every year due to cardiovascular disease alone.3

Dietary fiber deficiency is associated with many serious conditions and leading causes of death: cardiovascular disease, cancer, strokes, type 2 diabetes, infectious diseases, respiratory diseases, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diverticulitis, constipation, and a slew of other circulatory and digestive illnesses.4

Two observational studies showed that dietary fiber intake is also associated with a decreased risk of death from any cause. Those eating the highest amount of fiber reduced their risk of dying by 23% compared to those eating the least amount of fiber.5

Speaking of Cancer

In early February 2022, the Biden administration announced their goal of reducing the cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years. Nicknamed “Cancer Moonshot 2.0”, after then Vice President Biden launched the Cancer Moonshot initiative during the final days of the Obama administration, this supposed new and improved version for better detection, screening, and treatment is missing a major contributor: prevention.6

Although technological and environmental prevention is in fact included within the Cancer Moonshot agenda, there is no mention of dietary prevention. This massive oversight flies in the face of every medical doctor, healthcare professional, and registered dietary expert who has proven time and again that what we eat (i.e. fiber-rich foods) plays a vital role in preventing illness, including various cancers.

With more than 1.7 million people diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year, the reignited Cancer Moonshot initiative is yet another missed opportunity for federal policy and programs to address and take action against one of the biggest crises we face: tackling a food system that is designed and funded to make (and keep) us sick. Imagine if the national cost of cancer, roughly $208.9 billion in 20207, included allotment for prevention programs such as helping farmers grow more fiber-rich foods that are accessible to everyone; we wouldn’t have to spend so much on treatment.

It Doesn’t Add Up

According to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 95% of Americans are not eating as much fiber as they need.8 

When you look at fiber-rich foods like legumes and whole wheat that gets to our plate, AFA estimates only 8% of farm spending is going to these plant-based foods. Meanwhile, the USDA tells us that 80% of our plate is supposed to be fiber-rich foods.9

Laura Reese, AFA CEO

In 1968, African Americans in cities were twice as likely to meet the dietary recommendations for fruits, vegetables and fiber in the overall U.S. population. However, due to fast food franchises springing up in African American neighborhoods with relentless advertising of low fiber, low nutrition, high calorie, cheap food, African Americans were consuming the lowest amounts of fruits and vegetables by 1996 – just 28 years later.10

In the U.S., farmers only grow half of the fiber Americans need, so in order for all Americans to eat healthier, we need more farmers growing fiber-rich foods.11

Furthermore, plant-based food companies secure supply chains beyond US borders because there simply isn’t enough being produced here.12

A Call for Policy Reform

Federal Nutrition policies are still geared strictly to address caloric deficiencies, failing to prioritize the nutritional content for food.

Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) in the State of Nutrition hearing, Nov 2, 2021

We need farmers to grow healthy food. A farm transition program needs to be in place to transition to fiber-rich crops.13

➜ Read the Farm and Ranch Mobility Solutions Act

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