The Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) has written a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committee advocating changes in agricultural policy to support the plant-based foods market.
According to the PBFA, current policies unfairly favour meat and dairy producers. It points out that demand for plant-based products is rising rapidly, and that agricultural policy should reflect this. The PBFA’s executive director, Michele Simon, believes these changes are necessary in order for the marketplace to become more competitive.
The PBFA has proposed several policy changes which could be made in the 2018 farm bill. One is that produces of plant-based alternatives should not be prevented from using terms such as milk, cheese and meat, as long as these are purely descriptive and not misleading.
It has also been proposed that specialty crops such as flax, hemp, coconut and oats should receive more support; these are often used as ingredients by PBFA members. Additionally, the PBFA believes subsidies are needed to address the differences in price between specialty crops and commodities.
The letter also states that more research is needed on plant-based sources of protein such as chickpeas, lentils and sorghum, and that certain legumes should be recognised as major sources of Nutrients of Concern.
The PBFA has spoken out against the USDA’s commodity check-off programs. It claims that they support the meat and dairy industries and therefore put plant-based producers at a disadvantage. It says farmers should not be obliged to participate in these programs.
Finally, the letter supports policy changes which would make it easier for producers to transition to organic crop production.
An expanding market
This is the first farm bill platform issued by the PBFA, which was founded in 2016. The association now counts over 100 companies as members, and aims to remove the barriers standing in the way of plant-based food companies in order to create a more competitive marketplace.
Sales of plant-based foods have increased by 8.1% in the past year alone. It is hoped that the changes in policy proposed by the PBFA will help to support this market as it expands.