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Why ‘Slow’ Food Policy Matters – The 2018 Farm Bill

Oct. 6, 2017

Why ‘Slow’ Food Policy Matters – The 2018 Farm Bill

At Slow Food USA, there’s always something to be involved in. Whether a clambake in New England or a heritage recipe slam in the South, lovers of slow food have found a way to share it with their community. We deeply appreciate every chapter’s dedication to bringing slow food to their hometowns and we recognize the importance of another, less familiar, subject matter: public policy engagement. 

The farm bill, one of the most important pieces of federal legislation, sets US farm and food policy from field to fork; from what food is produced how and by whom to its broad impact, including on the environment and in equitable access. 

During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt effected the first farm bill as part of the New Deal.  It addressed the wide-spread poverty and accompanying hunger that were the dark hallmarks of the Great Depression by aiding farmers in getting their products to market and consumers in accessing sorely needed food. Since 1933, a new farm bill is rolled out every four to five years. In 2018, we are due for a new one. Conservative and progressive members of Congress, rural and urban constituencies, and civil society organizations of all stripes are pushing for their priorities to make their way into law.

Public farm and food policy can either help or hurt the Good, Clean, and Fair food chain in which we believe. Our passionately held beliefs and our like-minded network provide a sound base to support public policies that can advance a sustainable and equitable food chain and oppose policies that will impede it. We believe that Slow Food can play an important role in shaping national farm and food policy that is Good, Clean, and Fair for All.

Admittedly, federal farm and food policy is complex, dense, and not just a bit opaque, but it matters.  This farm bill season, Slow Food USA will help our supporters become more aware of federal policy, breaking down how it most affects our mission, and how we can affect policy outcomes for the better.  Slow Food Nations in Denver made the unequivocal point that we can change the world through food. Using Slow Food Nations as a springboard, we’ll be engaging in farm bill issues surrounding sustainability and equity for producers and eaters.

To start, Richard McCarthy, our Slow Food USA Executive Director, will be sending Slow Food Farm Bill Priorities to key Congressional leaders. Our priorities address the following: nutrition, particularly focusing on children; diverse and sustainable farms; small and mid-scale family farmers and ranchers; immigrant farm workers; urban farmers; biodiversity; and conservation in the face of imperiled agricultural resources and climate change. Across all priority areas, we will be calling on Congress to advance racial equity throughout the farm and food chain.

In the next few weeks, you’ll be able to see our Farm Bill Priorities letter to Congress. We hope that you all will follow and aid our farm bill advocacy to defend slow food for a better food future. We’ll help over the rough spots, like clearing up some of the bureaucratic opaqueness that befuddles all of us non-wonks. During the coming months, watch for more information and occasional opportunities for you to advocate for Good, Clean, and Fair Food for All.  If you have comments or questions, contact taylor.p@slowfoodusa.org.

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