What Americans Want in the Farm Bill

Lacey Gaechter

Lacey Gaechter

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the fourth in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.

With debates over the 2018 Farm Bill now in our rearview mirror, this is the time for food citizens to start advocating for our next Farm Bill, and a project of the Center for A Livable Future (CLF) offers insight into what the American people want to see in the 2023 version.

So how do we want our food policies to reflect our food priorities? According to CLF’s 2018 National Farm Bill Poll of 1,005 registered US voters, rolled out as part of the Food Citizen Project, only one in five of us are familiar with the Farm Bill. In fact, nearly half of us have never heard of the bill, despite the fact that it’s arguably the piece of legislation that affects our food system more than any other. Read More >

Policies and Resources: Poultry Production on Delmarva

Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Anderson

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

My introduction to the Delmarva Peninsula occurred during a lecture in which Dr. Meghan Davis presented some incredible statistics about the region. Dr. Davis described Delmarva as having one of the highest densities of poultry production in the world. Sadly, this concentration of poultry production is generating large amounts of agricultural runoff (manure, nitrogen, etc.) that pollutes the Chesapeake Bay.1 The runoff creates marine dead zones (areas unable to sustain life due to dissolved oxygen depletion2) and alters the microbial compositions and ecosystem functions within the bay.1,3 I subsequently learned that many Delmarva farmers are unhappy with the predominant model of poultry production in the region and its detrimental effects. What inhibits these farmers from adopting alternative production models? Read More >

Soil v Dirt: A National Public Health and Policy Issue

Lacey Gaechter

Lacey Gaechter

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the second in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.

In college, I rocked some Girls Love Dirt mountain biking socks, and the environmental club I founded was called Dirt First, a Simpsons reference for those of you who are fans. Let there be no mistake: this woman still loves dirt, but for growing food, dirt is not our best option. For that, we really want soil. Read More >

The Newly Passed FARM Act Makes Unreported Farm Pollutants Legal Again

Lacey Gaechter

Lacey Gaechter

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the first in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.

Last year the US District Court of Appeals took a huge step forward to protect public health from pollutants released by industrial-scale livestock facilities. This March, however, Congress negated the Court’s ruling when it passed the FARM Act. It was easy to miss this undermining of the 2017 decision since Congress rolled the FARM Act into the 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill as a rider.

What is the FARM Act?

The federal Fair Agriculture Reporting Method (FARM) Act is a formal, legislatively guaranteed exemption for industrial-scale livestock producers to the laws requiring other industries to report releases of hazardous materials. Read More >

Is Iowa Gaining Traction against the Hog Industry?

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

DeSoto Lake, Iowa

Call it what you will: a crossroads, a turning point, a tipping point. Iowans might simply call it progress, or rather, the prospect of progress. After more than 20 years of pushing back against the industrial-scale hog-raising operations in their communities, grassroots organizations might be making the behemoth budge.

Until recently, the corporate hog industry in Iowa has been impenetrable. Twenty-three years ago, in 1995, the state passed legislation that allows confined animal feeding operations, also called CAFOs or “confinements,” to exist. There was very little public outcry, and hundreds of confinements popped up, mostly in northern Iowa. Read More >

Air Monitoring Legislation May Be Path Forward for Health on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

For years, residents of the Eastern Shore of Maryland have been asking their local legislators and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to help them with a local problem. They live in communities that are home to industrial-scale poultry operations, where hundreds of thousands of birds are raised in chicken houses next to residential neighborhoods, and they feel that their health is suffering as a result. The stench from the chicken houses is bad enough, they say, but they must also contend with health problems such as asthma and persistent sinus infections, runny noses and headaches that they believe are a result of those poultry operations. Are their health problems caused by the ammonia and other pollutants blown from chicken houses through exhaust fans? There aren’t enough data to answer that question. Read More >

Gauging Commitment to Nutrition in Trump’s FDA

Jessi Silverman

Jessi Silverman

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

How much does menu labeling contribute to healthy eating?

Since President Trump was inaugurated 13 months ago, no one has been expecting his administration to champion nutritious food, especially in comparison to the Obama administration, which was more active than any other with respect to policies to encourage healthful eating and reduce diet-related disease. (The Obama years were marked by the Let’s Move campaign, the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, mandatory menu-labeling as part of the Affordable Care Act, and a pretty substantial overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label on food packaging.) Read More >

Proposed Reforms to SNAP May Threaten Food System Equity and Access

Sameer Siddiqi

Sameer Siddiqi

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

A political clash over millions of Americans’ access to food may be in store for this year. Recent executive and legislative developments suggest important changes are likely for the 42 million Americans that rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Administrative Changes on a State-by-State Basis

In November, 2017, the administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP, invited states to share strategies to promote “greater state flexibility,” Read More >

Recent CAFO Study is Critically Flawed

Carolyn Hricko

Carolyn Hricko

Program Officer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

As city councils, policymakers, and citizen groups consider proposed new locations or expansions of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), they rely on scientific evidence to help them weigh the potential impacts of CAFOs on the health of their communities. When asked to assess such proposals, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) refer to a considerable and growing body of rigorously conducted scientific evidence that suggests there are connections between living near CAFOs and adverse health outcomes. Curiously, in contrast to this evidence Read More >

Photovoice as a Tool for Community Engagement

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Underserved neighborhoods in Madrid were captured in a photovoice project.

The Photovoice medium, which some refer to as a form of “citizen science,” is an emerging tool being put to good use by food policy councils, government agencies and, most importantly, citizens around the globe. By using the power of photography, community members observe and document the specific food system dynamics in their own neighborhoods. Discussion groups review and reflect upon the photograph, and sometimes the previously unheard “voices” that are channeled through the photographs direct and inspire new policies and goals.

In the Spanish communities of Los Rosales and San Cristobal in Madrid, Photovoice Villaverde worked with the European initiative Heart Healthy Hoods to bring together 24 residents to take photos of their food environments. Read More >