Food and Farm Policy
The Slow Food USA Food and Farm Policy Steering Committee brings together diverse stakeholders from our network, and beyond, to advocate at every level of government for policies that will help forge the political, social, environmental, and economic links of a food chain that is good, clean, and fair for all.
Slow Food USA believes in the power of a food chain that is good, clean, and fair for all. It starts with our personal decisions about what food is on our plates and continues by advocating for federal, state, and local public policies that affect every aspect of the food chain, from field and sea to fork.
The magnitude of the failings in our food chain is such that we cannot truly achieve our goals going it alone. Our decades of engagement lead us to the imperative of adding our voice to those of other, like-minded, organizations in advocating for public food and farm policy that aligns with our beliefs and complements the on-the-ground programs and campaigns of our network.
New Administration, New Congress, New Chance
The 2020 elections brought us a new Administration and a new Congress, the 117th. The Biden/Harris Administration has promised to “build back better,” including addressing the regressive food and farm policies of the prior Administration and Congress.
In January, Anna Mulé, our Executive Director, sent a letter of policy recommendations to the Biden/Harris Transition Team. She wrote, “At this dark moment in our history, we see opportunities to effectively address longstanding, structural food chain failings that for far too long have plagued our nation – food chain inequity, exclusion, and injustice, our national health and well-being, and the health of our planet. It heartens us to see the Biden/Harris commitment to build back better in action.
This policy page will help keep you informed about food and farm challenges, opportunities, and times to be heard by policymakers. Learn more about our Policy Committee, federal food and farm policy structures through our Policy 101 guide, federal legislation we support (and oppose) in the 117th Congress, the policy issues of like-minded organizations that we support, and members of Congress working on food and farm legislation, sorted by state on our Policy Power Maps.
Slow Food USA supports government legislation and regulation that uphold a sustainable, inclusive, and equitable food chain.
This document contains information regarding federal legislation we support. We encourage you to contact your Congressional delegation (U.S. Senators and Representative) and ask them to support these important pieces of legislation. You can find your Senators’ contact info here and that of your Representative here.
The THREE SISTERS of FOOD and FARM POLICY
Like the symbiotic trio of corn, beans, and squash, the three sisters of our national food and farm policy legislation are below. Learn more about the trio and what Slow Food USA is calling upon our federal legislators to do to achieve better, cleaner, and fairer food and farm policy.
- Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR)
- The Farm Bill + Food Chain Immigration
- The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation And Management Act (MSA)
About every five years, Congress, via a Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR), reauthorizes essential federal nutrition programs that help provide healthy food and nutrition to more than 35,000,000 children and infants each year, including
- more than five billion school lunches for about 30,000,000 students at more than 100,000 schools (Twenty-two million qualify for free or reduced-price lunches that provide half of their nutrition needs.).
- the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and
- the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
Each CNR updates the original enabling legislation, the Richard B. Russell School Lunch Act of 1946.
The last CNR, the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), became law in 2010. We are long overdue for a CNR that builds upon the nutrition successes of the HHFKA and restores subsequent school nutrition rollbacks made by the last Congress and Administration.
Slow Food USA calls upon Congress and the Biden/Harris Administration to ensure that the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization
- Extends school meal waivers to ensure all school children have food access during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Provides Universal Free Meals for all school children.
- At minimum, adheres to federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans to determine stronger nutritional standards for school meals that include reductions in salt and added sugar.
- Limits unhealthy school snacks offered that undermine the consumption of healthy meals.
- Rejects rollbacks and “flexibilities” to the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act nutrition standards and ensure adequate public comment periods regarding future federal school meal regulation proposals.
- Eliminates marketing of Big Food brands as school meal competitive foods.
- Provides incentives and reduces barriers to procure local food by schools, institutions, and Tribal communities.
- Funds school garden and nutrition education programs to offset inequities in the food system and increase healthy food consumption in schools.
- Ensures that schools participating in the National School Lunch Program guarantee enough time for lunch, so children have time to eat the healthy food provided in school.
While it seems far off, advocates and legislators are beginning to consider the next Farm Bill (2023).
The Farm Bill addresses food and farm policy from production to access. It consists of Agricultural Titles and a Nutrition Title.
- Agricultural Titles include programs that address commodities, conservation, trade, rural development, horticulture, organic farming, crop insurance, subsidies, research, beginning and disadvantaged farmer and rancher development, and food and farm issues affecting indigenous people.
- The Nutrition Title accounts for 76% of farm bill spending and covers programs including SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps); TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program); the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).
SFUSA calls on Congress and the Biden/Harris Administration to ensure that the next Farm Bill
- Effectively addresses food chain structural racism, inequity, exclusion, and injustice, with emphasis on engaging and supporting BIPOC producers.
- Ensures national food and nutrition security.
- Helps local and regional, urban and rural, and Tribal farm and food economies thrive and ensures that the next generation of family-scale, urban and rural farmers and ranchers are successful.
- Re-localizes our food chain and ensures fair markets, programs, and access for family-scale farmers and ranchers, focusing on BIPOC producers.
- Supports science and policies that serve small and mid-scale, family farmers and ranchers and ensures that they are central to climate-focused conservation and regenerative production.
Food Chain Immigration
While issues of food chain immigration historically are not addressed in the Farm Bill, the fact is that our food, from field and sea to fork, depends on the labor of immigrant farmworkers and food chain workers, many of them undocumented.
Farmworkers and food chain workers, documented and undocumented, are and have been essential to our ability to feed ourselves. However, it took the Covid-19 pandemic for the last Congress and Administration to acknowledge that essentiality, albeit doing too little to protect those who risked their health and that of their loved ones to put food on our tables. Now, we must ensure that the essentiality of these workers and our debt to them are not forgotten.
Slow Food USA calls upon Congress and the Biden/Harris Administration to
- Support the health, dignity, and fair treatment of our essential farmworkers and food chain workers, regardless of immigration status.
- Provide undocumented immigrant farmworkers and food chain workers with a path to citizenship for themselves and their families.
The Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is the periodically renewed legislation that governs marine fisheries management in federal waters. First passed in 1976, the MSA fosters the long-term biological and economic sustainability of marine fisheries by addressing fish habitat decline, preventing overfishing, rebuilding overfished stocks, increasing long-term, seafood-based economic and social benefits, and ensuring a safe and productive supply of seafood.
Slow Food USA calls upon Congress and the Biden/Harris Administration to
- Rejuvenate federal leadership, policymaking, and funding to support just and meaningful ocean governance that acknowledges that our marine fisheries are a shared, national resource.
- Engage meaningfully and equitably with community-based and Tribal fishing communities as a prerequisite to establishing policy goals – seeking the active involvement of the communities who firsthand know our federal fisheries.
- Reauthorize the MSA to include considerations of climate change, ecosystem-based fisheries management, and sustained participation in local/regional fisheries by community-based and Tribal fishers.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization Policy Map
The House Committee on Education and Labor has jurisdiction over the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Check out our policy map to see if you have a representative serving on the committee.
Farm Bill Policy Maps
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry and the House Committee on Agriculture have jurisdiction over the Farm Bill. Check out the following policy maps to learn if your Representatives serve on these Committees or Sub-committees.
Farm Bill Policy MAPS
Senate Agriculture Committee Map
House Agriculture Committee
Marine Policy Maps
The MSA is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). MSA legislative jurisdiction resides with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sub-committee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard and the House Committee on Natural Resources, Sub-committee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. Check out our marine policy maps below to learn if your Representatives serve on any of these Sub-committees.