In the latest political milestone for alternative proteins, US House Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) led 10 members of Congress in asking the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand funding for alternative protein research.
In a December 17 letter, Rep. Khanna and additional members of the House Agriculture Committee asked USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to include alternative proteins research in the Fiscal Year 2023 USDA Budget Request.
The letter also requested $50 million of coronavirus relief funding be allocated to alternative protein research in order to “improve the sustainability and resiliency of our food systems” and “create new economic opportunities for American farmers, new benefits for consumers, and help reduce agricultural emissions.”
A pivotal year
The latest show of Congressional support for protein research caps off a historic year for the Good Food Institute, whose efforts to promote favorable policies for plant-based and cultivated meat in Washington resulted in a stunning string of political successes in 2021:
- In March, 15 House members and 3 Senators asked John Kerry, Presidential Envoy for Climate, to prioritize alternative proteins as a top solution to climate change.
- In April, U.S. Rep.Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Chris Van Hollen both cited alternative proteins as an agricultural research priority.
- In a letter sent in August, House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern, House Education Committee Chair Julia Brownley, and 44 other members of Congress asked the House Agriculture Committee to include funding for alternative protein research in the budget reconciliation bill.
The most significant development of all came October 15, when the USDA announced a $10 million grant to build the National Institute for Cellular Agriculture, a groundbreaking cultivated meat research center at Tufts University.
A more equitable food system
Facilitated by GFI’s political outreach, Congress’ most recent letter seeking to expand protein research reflects a fundamental shift in support for animal-free protein innovation.
GFI Associate Director of Policy Michael Ryan praised the latest news: “GFI applauds Rep. Khanna and his Congressional colleagues’ support of alternative protein research and the growing recognition of this powerful climate solution. USDA’s continued leadership as a funder and supporter of plant-based and cultivated meat is laying the foundation for a more equitable food system that offers consumers appetizing and accessible protein choices that also address climate change, biodiversity, and key global health goals. The USDA’s support for new ways to produce meat can accelerate the development and scaling of sustainable agri-food systems that meet the growing demand for meat and contribute to a robust, resilient, climate-smart food and agricultural system.”