December 19, 2014
Last week, the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders met in Washington, DC for their inaugural annual policy briefing, this year bearing the title “Building Power from Kitchen Tables to Capitol Hill.”
The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) is an international network of nearly 100 grantmakers that works to foster communication, shared learning, and information exchange about issues connected to sustainable agriculture and food systems.
SAFSF carries out its mission by providing opportunities for collaboration and increasing awareness of the issues as well as funding needs to (i) promote sustainable and just food production; (ii) link to concerns about sustainability and justice of our food system; and (iii) connect food production with issues of environmental stewardship, diet and heath, and viability of communities.
Following two days of workshops with subject matter experts in the areas of agriculture, conservation, food access, and grassroots organizing, some of the SAFSF members participated in arranged meetings with representatives from the White House and congressional offices.
This included a productive meeting with Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, Doug McKalip, Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs with the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Dan Christenson, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of Agriculture (USDA). SAFSF members in attendance discussed a wide range of issues with the Administration, including child nutrition and the upcoming Child Nutrition Act reauthorization process in 2015, free trade agreements and fast track authority, Individual Development Accounts for beginning farmers and ranchers, local data and the Census of Agriculture, and the USDA Farm to School Grant program.
Later in the day, members of SAFSF met with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. During the meeting, Senator Stabenow and her staff outlined many of the gains in the 2014 Farm Bill, especially the increase in support for local and regional food systems, while also discussing areas for improvement in the next farm bill. Senator Stabenow also addressed questions about the upcoming Child Nutrition Act reauthorization. Senator Stabenow and SAFSF members also discussed effective ways to talk about important food and agriculture issues with legislators.
In addition to these two meetings, SAFSF members met with Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and with key staff people from the offices of Representative John Kline (R-MN), Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) to further discuss critical issues impacting sustainable agriculture and food systems, including immigration reform, trade agreements, child nutrition, beginning farmers, GMO labeling, and many others.
These meetings helped raise the profile of these issues while also making policy makers aware of SAFSF and its mission. NSAC was very pleased to have helped organize the White House and Capitol Hill meeting portion of this inaugural SAFSF policy event.
Categories: General Interest