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Add your name to another drive for sustainable food.
Four specific problems to overcome
- Current policy is mired in a 20th century industrial paradigm, where the primary goals are limited to production volume, efficiency of feeding, and ensured profits for commodity producers and those they supply, thereby, benefiting too few.
- People, ecosystems, and rural economies are becoming less healthy as a direct result of current American policy.
- The efforts to solve food and agriculture challenges are not being addressed to the degree required by the scale of the problems.
- The last farm bill cycle confirmed that too few control the debate and they are focused on protecting the status quo rather than aiding the broader population of the nation.
Solution: A new overarching rationale for food and farm policy
A clear and concise picture of an alternative paradigm that will be better for the entire nation is needed. The last several farm policy cycles indicate that if reformers seek success, 2008 is the time to begin preparing for the next one.
The purpose of US food and agriculture policy must emerge from a set of holistic principles that compel masses of Americans to take a stand by changing their own food related activities and by declaring to the Congress that the nation wants more change.
Health is the key concept. A new framework must support improvements in community and individual health, which are both linked to health of the natural environment and the economic strength of rural communities.
A new purpose and guiding principles for policy must lead to a new set of federal programs that benefit national health not merely those who provide cheap calories.
Why Roots of Change initiated this declaration project?
Roots of Change’s (ROC) mission is to create a sustainable food system in California, the nation’s largest producer of food and agricultural products, by the year 2030. As with many other organizations, the current federal food and agriculture policy framework impedes ROC’s ability to achieve its mission because it provides the wrong overarching goals and inadequate incentives to the nation’s farmers, ranchers, and food providers.
ROC initiated the project to draft a national declaration in order to provide the good food movement with a clear and commonly held framework for future action that could be used to educate the nation’s citizens and policy makers and thereby unleash rapid policy improvement, which will aid ROC with its own mission.
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The concept for the declaration began with Michael R. Dimock, the President of Roots of Change (ROC). He was the primary author of Slow Food USA’s first national statute and the founding Chairman of Slow Food USA. Mr. Dimock believed that it would serve the good food movement to collaborate with others on a declaration that could be used to spark the public’s action on national policy. In late 2007, he proposed to Anya Fernald, Executive Director of Slow Food Nation, that ROC could spawn a national effort to develop a declaration related to the farm bill and other food policies that would provide policy content for the Slow Food Nation event. He then proposed the project to ROC’s governing body, the Stewardship Council, in February 2008. With approval from both entities, the project began.
The Core Team
Mr. Dimock began by forming a small “drafting team” with writing talent that would be self directed and could work quickly and collaboratively. The members are Washington DC-based Food and Water Watch farm policy advocate, Patty Lovera; midwestern publisher of Edible Iowa River Valley, Wendy Wasserman; and the founder of the Wild Farm Alliance and Watershed Media, and author of several books related to agriculture, including “Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to a Food and Farm Bill,” Dan Imhoff.
Although they worked together on all aspects of the document, each team member had an assigned role. Mr. Imhoff was the primary scribe, writing first drafts as well as multiple edited revisions following critiques by collaborators. Ms. Lovera ensured the document was realistic and usable by policy experts inside and outside the beltway. Ms. Wasserman watched the language to ensure that the general reader could comprehend the content and that critical needs of the heartland were kept in the forefront. Mr. Dimock forged consensus among the diverse interests and offered concepts and specific language to aid Imhoff as he sought to capture the emerging consensus in each draft.