Ag Policy Blog

RFK Jr's Plan to Weaponize Regulators to Transform American Agriculture

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has spoken a lot in recent months about how he wants to reform American agriculture by ending the use of pesticides through regulators and promoting the use of regenerative agricultural practices by overhauling farm subsidies. (DTN file photo; photo of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. courtesy of

Robert F. Kennedy Jr's vanity run for the White House more than likely won't end with him winning the electoral college, but he has a lot to say about production agriculture and how he would like to change it.

Throughout much of his career, Kennedy, 70, worked as an environmental lawyer, helping build the group Waterkeepers Alliance, which he led for 20 years until stepping down as its president in 2020.

Kennedy and other attorneys joined forces in 2017 and sued Monsanto in a federal court in California, winning a $289 million jury award for a groundskeeper who contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The eventual award was reduced on appeal to $21 million, but it marked the first major court case and led to essentially hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto/Bayer over glyphosate.

Agriculture and Kennedy's desire to change the way farmers grow crops are a central part of his campaign for president. Key tenets of Kennedy's campaign are to "rebuild American soils," while his presidency would "transform our agricultural system to get pesticides out of our food supply." Kennedy said his goal is to develop a system of "organic, regenerative agriculture" in the country.

Kennedy's campaign did not respond to questions from DTN about how he plans to make these changes to farming practices.

In a recent interview, Kennedy said he would "weaponize" federal agencies to squeeze pesticides and herbicides out of U.S. farming practices.

"One of the things I can do is weaponize the other agencies against chemical agriculture by doing good science on the chemicals that are actually poisoning us and show that maybe a high-fructose corn syrup is linked to the obesity epidemic," Kennedy said.

In a video last week, Kennedy said, "I have a lot of plans for ending the corporate control over our food supply and over our farmland and the destruction of our soils. I'm going to reverse 80 years of farm policy in this country, which have directed us toward industrial agriculture, industrial meat production, factory farming, and chemical-based agriculture, carbon-based fertilizers -- all of these things that are destroying the soils in our country."

He added, "It's poisoning the food. The food that they produce is not even food anymore. It's commodities, and most of it is going to processed food companies that are using a thousand ingredients that are all banned in Europe, and we have a chronic disease epidemic in this country that is being fed by processed foods."

Kennedy's website states that as president, he would change the way farmers are subsidized to move away from commodities. "We will shift agricultural subsidies to encourage regenerative practices. Today, a new generation of farmers and ranchers is building soil, replenishing groundwater and detoxifying land, all while producing just as much food as conventional farmers and earning a decent livelihood."

Further, the Kennedy campaign stated USDA would become more of a regulator along with EPA. Right now, those federal agencies are "completely captive" to corporate interests. "We will restore the USDA and the EPA to their proper role of protecting health and the environment. Today, corporate influence has severely compromised these agencies, resulting in a proliferation of highly toxic chemicals in our food, soil, air and water. It's time to clean it up!"

In another talk, Kennedy added, "I'm going to start using every mechanism I can to incentivize regenerative agriculture, which farmers want to do. No farmer wants to be in the commodity business of producing essentially fiber for us to eat and feel like we had a meal."

Talking about Midwest agriculture, Kennedy said he has been on farms in Iowa and Kansas where farmers can't drink from their own wells.

"Those farmers are among the dispossessed. They have been de-platformed by corporations," he said. "Nobody wants to live like that, but they are locked in a system from which nobody can escape."

RFK Jr on reversing farm policy:…

RFK Jr on American farming:…

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