The morning of April 1 greeted us with freezing rain, slush-covered sidewalks and a forecast of snow throughout the day. This was not a mean-spirited April Fools’ Day joke, just spring in New England. Claire Fitch and I were in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to participate in the third annual “Just Food?” forum at Harvard Law School. This year’s event, a collaboration between the Harvard Law School Food Law Society and the Harvard Food Literacy Project and cosponsored by the Food Law and Policy Clinic, was focused on labor across the food system. The forum featured about 30 speakers, lunchtime documentary film screenings, and session topics ranging from agricultural worker rights and wages in the restaurant industry to regulatory and market driven models for reform. Read More >
Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue finally had his day in front of the Senate, the last in a long line of Trump administration nominees. In the two months since the announcement of his nomination for Secretary of Agriculture, questions have been raised about Perdue’s conflicts of interest, denial of climate change, ethical violations, and efforts to undermine food safety and local control. Read More >
The headlines say that the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act of 2017 will make all chickens raised in Maryland free of antibiotics. While this sounds promising, the legislation has several deficiencies and will not achieve its sponsors’ intent.
A gutted version of the bill has recently passed in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates and is on its way to reconciliation Read More >
The cultural schisms in the U.S.— rural versus urban, liberal versus conservative—are hardly new. So what’s the best way to make positive, progressive food system change in rural, politically right-leaning communities? The people who have been negotiating this divide through food policy councils (FPCs), task forces or other multi-stakeholder initiatives have advice. Read More >
Next week, the full Senate will vote on a potentially disastrous appointment to the President’s cabinet: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Not only does AG Pruitt have a history of antagonism toward laws designed to protect natural resources—like air and water—from pollution, but he also has expressed a desire to disempower the very agency he’s been nominated to lead. There is every reason to believe that he would pull back on strategies designed to mitigate climate change, and that he would do the same with rules intended to protect the public’s health and environment. Read More >
The public health community and the current administration align on very few issues – and yet the Republican president’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) might be a win for food systems and public health. Could it be?
A trade agreement such as the TPP is huge in scope—it affects many different stakeholders in different ways. In 2014 and 2015, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future bloggers explored negative implications on issues such as antibiotic resistance, food sovereignty, and the ability of corporations to sue countries whose policies affect their profits. Read More >
“I consider myself an environmentalist, but also our job is to provide jobs for people… And unfortunately for your interests, the chicken farming industry provides a lot of jobs on the Eastern Shore.” This was the response from Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D–27) when asked if he would support legislation to halt the expansion of industrialized, “mega” chicken houses on the Eastern Shore. “Whether you like it or not, agriculture is still the Number One business in this state. You can’t cripple the industry,” he said. Read More >
Have you ever considered getting up before dawn to stand in line for a new grocery store? Residents in East Baltimore did just that on November 3, 2016, to welcome the Save a Lot opening at 2509 East Monument Street. The line to enter the store extended down the block and around the corner well before the store was scheduled to open at 7am.
This area of East Baltimore was one of the most entrenched food deserts in the city before the Save a Lot opened. It had been years Read More >
Something interesting happened in Oklahoma. On November 8, this state, typically associated with a rural, farming and ranching way of life, did as expected: the majority of Oklahomans (65 percent) voted for the Republican presidential candidate and all seven of the state’s electoral votes went red. But something a little unusual happened, too. That same day, 60 percent of Oklahoma voters opposed an amendment typically associated with the Republican agenda—the so-called “right to farm.” In essence, Oklahoma elected a right-wing Read More >
After hearing rumors of its existence for months, I eagerly sat down to read the text of the new Urban Agriculture Act proposed by Senator Debbie Stabenow. Stabenow, a member of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, has introduced legislation that would establish an Office of Urban Agriculture (akin to its Office of the Chief Economist, Office of Advocacy and Outreach, and New and Beginning Farmer Office) at USDA. After reading the text, I’m enthusiastic but I have some concerns, mainly in that too much emphasis has been placed on the (dubious) potential economic and production wins offered by urban ag, while giving short shrift to the sociocultural and ecosystem benefits. Before I get to that, though, here is an overview of the plan.
This office would coordinate policies related to urban agriculture across the Department. The legislation—expected to cost $460 million Read More >