My first stop May 17th was Washington, D.C., where CFJC convened the Healthy Farms, Healthy People Summit along the Public Health Institute, American Farmland Trust, Center for a Livable Future at John Hopkins University, Public Health Law and Policy, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and Centers for Disease Control.
I know we’ve included a blog posting on our website from NSAC about the convening but I wanted to add my own observations as well.
The one and a half day gathering was carefully organized to create space for nontraditional allies to engage in conversation about policy and the Farm Bill 2012 process, and I for one could not be happier about the outcome of the effort.
Perhaps others expected more concrete outcomes, such as agreement on joint policy priorities, or the outline of a work plan going forward or any other number of actionable items. I, on the other hand, think that we are obligated to engage in conversation to learn more about the work of many diverse groups across sectors, before sealing the deal regarding specific collaboration efforts.
At the same time, I was thrilled to hear Assistant Director William Dietz from the Centers for Disease Control, along with Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan from the USDA both endorse the idea that the time is now to be working in coalitions and collaboration efforts with new purpose.
CFJC is committed to the collaborative process. Moreover, we will continue to take a leadership position in the process to ensure that the concerns of our local communities are always under consideration during every policy discussion.
Healthy Farms, Healthy People was a wonderful first step in the process. From our perspective, a coalition to work on a better Farm Bill 2012 is building, with CFJC among the leadership, and that is a good thing.
From D.C. I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina, to participate in the Community Food Policy meetings. Over four days a small group of representatives from 45 organizations hammered out the beginnings of a series of documents that will serve us all well in formulating plans for working together on food policy.
It was hard, roll-up-your-shirtsleeves work and I commend the Kellogg Foundation for convening the group and providing logistics. Especially, I applaud their faith in stepping back and allowing participants to take over and implement an action oriented agenda that made development of concrete work products possible.
It is too early to share those products here, but I will be writing more about them in the weeks to come.
I am proud that CFJC, on your behalf, is actively engaged food policy discussions at every level of policy making, and look forward to sharing information and lessons learned via our structure of online communications, public policy calls, and regional listening sessions.
In addition, please feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of our work. After all, we are a coalition and I am working on your behalf.