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FARM BILL: CFJC Public Policy Meeting Notes – 11/16 call

November 18, 2011
by Admin

Each month, CFJC hosts a conference call for all those working on policy: regarding Farm Bill 2012 as well as other regional initiatives.  We’ll post the meeting notes distributed after the calls here.  To join or get more info, email yanieto@cafoodjustice.org.

NOVEMBER 16 NOTES

National Policy Updates
Secret Farm Bill

  • There are rumors that the Secret Farm Bill deal has been struck. Nothing new on numbers ($13 billion in cuts to commodities, $ 6 to conservation, $4 billion to nutrition)
  • A lot of jockey-ing among commodity groups. Corn, soybean and wheat growers getting some kind of income protection. Cotton getting higher target price and new programs.
  • Concerns are that there are no payment limits associated with these, no conservation standards compliance with crop insurance.
  • The Ag Committee Proposal will be submitted to the Supercommittee sometime in the next week, we don’t know if we’ll be able to see it though.
  • Rumor is that energy title will be taken out completely.
  • Title 1 (commodities) has been a stumbling block, and that’s why there has been no sign-off on the package.
  • Super Committee has to make a deal by Nov. 23. Feeling is that the Ag Committee will send them something, but that the Super Committee won’t be able to strike a larger deal. If they don’t, then we’ll have a normal reauthorization order for the Farm Bill.
  • CFJC’s Steering Committee will be reviewing the bill introduced by Representative Pingree and Senator Brown (Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act) on 11.17.11 and will likely be supporting the legislation. Matthew noted PHI’s support of the bill, but has reservations on some of the interpretation of the provisions and their impact on SNAP-Ed. They will be working with the sponsors’ offices of the bill to clarify, and urged others to support the bill.
  • If the Supercommittee fails, there are concerns that SNAP may be more vulnerable following sequestration.  Senator Stabenow’s staff and others feel that SNAP-Ed and other nutrition programs will get a better deal through the Supercommittee process

Food Day letter by CSPI, Prevention Institute, EWG and others

  • 70 organizations (farms, businesses) signed on to letter
  • 14,000 residents signed on to petition, which was delivered in person to Mike Thompson in Napa
  • 7 California members signed on as co-sponsors. About 50 co-sponsors in House, 7 in Senate. The more sponsors, the easier it is to get its language into the Farm Bill.
  • This has been an opportunity to put pressure on the Ag Committee members (3 from California) who generally are supportive of big ag.
  • Large growers see it as a threat.
  • Representative Baca on the Ag Committee has not signed on. Neither have Feinstein or Boxer, but we hear they’re supportive.
  • One concern in the past has been “planting flexibility” (use part of their acres to grow fruits and vegetables), but there is no strong language on this so this shouldn’t be a concern anymore.
  • How to support:
    – Call representatives, ask for ag staffer, and urge your support.
    – Share information about what the staffers are saying so that we know which offices to target for more effort.
    – Get in touch with Kari Hammerschlag at EWG for more information.

CFJC conference updates

  • Great involvement by community and youth.
  • A launch for many on-going efforts, such as Healthy Farms, Healthy People Coalition (hfhpcoalition.org), the Rural Coalition,  and prioritizations for the Farm Bill.
  • US Food Sovereignty Alliance held its first assembly after the conference. They will issue a call to action around 3 priorities they identified.

Occupy movement & Occupy the Food Movement

  • CFJC believes that food justice (access to healthy food as a basic human right) links to the broader Occupy movement.
  • Occupy the Food Movement—is this something CFJC should take leadership on?
  • CFJC did have a food justice teach in/eat in at the Oakland Occupy general strike on Nov. 2.
    – How can Occupy the Food Movement connect to the larger occupy movement?
    – Next step would be to meet as a whole and figure out what our goals would be, what our capacity is, etc.
  • Chris Cook is vocal about corporate control of the food system, and it’d be great to get in touch with him. He is already on the Occupy the Food Movement listserve.
  • We need to be coordinated with our efforts and have specific targets.
  • Lobbying by industry groups, such as ConAgra and others now allows for pizza to be counted as a vegetable in school meal programs. These provisions were slipped in behind closed doors by lobbyists.
    – Feeding America has a good summary  CFJC will circulate more information on these topics.

State/local updates
Council of Councils

  • Representatives from 15 food policy councils (FPCs) and alliances met on Saturday in person.
  • Wanted to come together as a California food policy body to share information and better impact food policy at state level.
  • We would work together as a “Council of Councils”, and groups would participate as they are able within their local structures (i.e. just listening vs. voting).
  • Formed 3 working groups to flesh out the details
    – Communications: internal among FPCs and external
    – Governance: structure of the council
    – Policy: an analysis of what the local FPCs are working on, and where we could work together to provide the most impact at the state level.
  • Will be meeting end of this month or next month, to re-convene the entire group in January.

Next Public Policy call is January 25th, 9am PST

Call Attendees

  • Matthew Marsom, Public Health Institute
  • Armando Nieto, CFJC
  • Jenny Huston, Farm to Table Food Services
  • Christina Spach, CFJC
  • Tiffany Nurrenbuern, Roots of Change
  • Mike Somers, Pesticide Watch
  • Park Troutman, 1 in 10 Coalition and San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative
  • Victoria Endsley, CFJC
  • Sadie Sponsler, San Diego Hunger Action
  • ___ Cook, Mendocino Food Policy Council
  • Lotta Chan, CFJC
  • Kari Hammerschlag, EWG
  • Bruce Rankin, Westside Food Bank
  • Gillian Poe, Orange County Food Access
  • Melanie Cohn, San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative
  • Martin Bourque, Ecology Center
  • Mia Hubbard, Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger
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