The Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University released a series of policy recommendations for the new administration to bring the health of food systems and communities to the forefront of policy discussion. Agrarian Trust’s work all ultimately connects communities with the food being grown by their people from their soil, and according to the figures put out with the report we are part of a rising tide. The concept of the “food voter” is introduced and CLF’s surveys indicate that food issues and the sustainability of the food system are deciding factors in many people’s election day decisions and civic actions. This increasing awareness and concern of the general voting population could stem from many of the tools and policies that CLF has put together over the years.
For example, using the existing structures of regional Food Policy Councils along with other state, local, and tribal food policy entities to create unified voices on food and agriculture policy. As small and sustainable farms have grown, so have the voices of these local food policy multi-stakeholder groups. A decade ago, these networks only connected 30 groups, but now the network spans 210 groups across the target area. CLF also piloted a comprehensive food mapping project that spanned Maryland and could be duplicated in other states. Showing interested parties the locations of organizations working on public health and nutrition, as well as agricultural enterprises strengthening the food system and community food access. Identifying the needs and values of the consumers and communities in this way makes sustainable agriculture’s voice louder. This not only strengthens the position in the market but also builds power by uniting to leverage that market share to make governments craft favorable policies. Policies to reduce risk on small farms, promote conservation and stewardship practices, and allow community land holding can remove barriers to small scale farming. As the 115th Congress takes up the question of the 2018 Farm Bill, we hope that they use the research tools and policy recommendations provided in the report to make the right decisions for the future of America’s farmers.
Read the full report here.