The votes have been cast and mostly counted. Republicans will retain control of the Senate, while Democrats will have control of the House. In addition to voting for their representatives in Congress and state governments, Americans also weighed in Tuesday on a handful of measures impacting the food industry.
Grocery tax bans — Washington: YES, Oregon: NO
Washington and Oregon voted on measures to ban all new grocery taxes. The measures were largely funded by the beverage industry (in Washington, almost all of the funding came from The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Inc., Keurig-Dr. Pepper, and Red Bull North America).
In Washington, Initiative 1634 passed, meaning local governments will be banned from enacting new taxes on groceries. However, Seattle’s soda tax, which brought in $10 million in its first six months, will remain in place. In Oregon, Measure 103 failed, leaving the door open for taxes to be imposed in the future.
Minimum wage increases — Arkansas: YES, Missouri: YES
Voters in Arkansas (Issue 5) and Missouri (Proposition B) approved ballot measures to increase the state’s minimum wage. In Missouri, the minimum wage will increase from $7.85 to $12 an hour by 2023, while in Arkansas it will go from $8.50 to $11 an hour by 2021.
According to BLS data, the average wage for food processing workers is $11.52 in Arkansas and $12.30 in Missouri. The increases will boost wages for those making below average, as well as for non-tipped restaurant workers and other employees across the food industry supply chain.
New standards for farm animal confinement — California: YES
California voters approved Proposition 12, which sets new minimum space requirements for egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal. It also prohibits the sale of meat or eggs from animals confined in ways that don’t meet the minimum requirements.
Legalizing recreational marijuana — Michigan: YES
With the passage of Proposal 1, Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational use and possession of marijuana. Voters in Missouri (Amendment 2) and Utah (Proposition 2) legalized the medical use of marijuana, while voters in North Dakota defeated a similar measure (Measure 3).
Marijuana legalization efforts have been slowly spreading across the country. As they do, they open the door for cannabis-infused products, a market the beverage industry has already taken cautious steps toward capturing. A full roll-out of cannabis-infused food and beverage products will have to wait until federal laws change, but the increased momentum in state laws suggest that the change will come sooner rather than later.
The new makeup of Congress will likely have an impact on food policy as well. For example, a new Farm Bill still hasn’t been passed. Other items currently being addressed include the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and labels for food containing genetically engineered ingredients.
For some perspectives on how the election results might affect these issues, check out these articles:
- Food Dive. When It Comes to Food Policy, the Midterm Elections May Have Consequences
- Bloomberg. For Farmers, Trade and Food Policy Are at Play in U.S. Midterms
Finally, on November 14, the Farm Foundation will hold a panel discussion about what the election results will mean for food and agriculture. It’s free, but registration is required. Learn more here.