Seattle Leads the Way Towards National Sustainable Food Policy

When it comes to national food policy, the Farm Bill is arguably the most impactful and important piece of legislation. The Farm Bill spans all things food and farm--from nutrition assistance programs to food safety, rural development and conservation to trade policy. It's all there, and it's all up for grabs in 2012.  Sustainable food and agriculture advocates are clamoring for change, and likewise the City of Seattle has organized a list of principles they hope to see in the revised Farm Bill. Listen up Obama:

The Seattle Farm Bill Principles were first initiated by the City Council President as a part of the Seattle Local Food Action Initiative, and were compiled and signed by a group of 11 stakeholders. The co-signers range from city government members to public health officials, farm owners  and food purveyors.  Their collaboration in and of itself makes a powerful statement about using a more holistic systems approach to farm and food policy, considering both the start up organic urban farmer and the urban planner and how their interests overlap.  One of the main reasons for Seattle's proposed principles is the health and food security of city residents, which these founding co-signers see as inextricably connected to the health and promotion of sustainable agriculture.

The Seattle Farm Bill Principles are written broadly to "support healthy farms, food, and people," and are broken down into six concise bullet points, demanding:  A Health Centered Food System; Sustainable Agricultural Practices; Community and Regional Prosperity and Resilience; Equitable Access to Healthy Food; Social Justice and Advocacy; Systems Approach to Policy Making. For each heading the co-signers also provide lists of possible implementation strategies, which make the principles seem less lofty and more within range of attainability . If the 2012 Farm Bill were to adopt or incorporate the principles, it would be HUGE changes in our agriculture, food, and health systems. Is our government brave enough to really shake things up for the greater good?

More cities and groups need to get their act together and put forth similar proposals. If any change is going to come at all, we need to rally for healthy, sustainable national food systems, for the sake of the health of all Americans. Check out Seattle's principles and reiterate to call for sustainable food and agriculture in your neck of the woods!