February 19th, 2014 by Linda Elbert
Update from Slow Food California Policy Committee
The Slow Food California Policy Committee met on February 19, 2014 via a phone conference to deal with the results of a Policy Priority Survey completed by the leadership teams of the state chapters. Five areas emerged as policy preference priorities. The results and discussions are summarized as follows:
- Farm Bill – there should be an effort to follow where funding goes to the various programs in the new Farm Bill. There will be a lot of rulemaking in order to implement these programs and we will need to be involved in crafting comments. One particular program the SNAP Incentive Program has $20,000,000 to incentivize SNAP recipients to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables. There will also be advocacy efforts necessary during the appropriations process.
- Food Safety & Modernization Act – There will be another round of rulemaking due to the numerous comments in the early round. This next round will most likely start in the spring.
- GMO Labeling – At the state level, Assembly member Noreen Evans (D -Livermore) will be proposing a bill that will require GMO labeling in CA. At the federal level, the Grocery Manufacturers Association is working hard to thwart state efforts at GMP labeling by having a federal piece of legislation that calls for voluntary labeling and usurping states rights to pass mandated labeling laws.
- Cottage Food – the committee wants to know if there has been any implementation problems at the county level and what are the efforts needed to expand the variety of allowable products in the legislation
- School Food – thus far no legislation has been introduced at the state level regarding School Garden Promotion. The deadline for introducing new legislation in the state legislature is Friday February 21.
The committee also expressed an interest in remaining flexible as new ideas for legislation appear and therefore not just focusing on the areas identified in the survey responses. For example, there was concern about labor and environmental issues.
All of these will be discussed in the Policy Workshop at the Leaders Conference in March.
Lastly, it was reported the Slow Food USA is establishing a list-serve for those who want to be more deeply engaged in these kinds of opportunities to advocate for policy change. To sign up, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your first/last name and city/state of residence and you will periodically receive requests to sign onto letters, petitions and campaigns and will be notified of important calls to action as issues emerge and evolve.