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Written by: Charity Kenyon (Slow Food Sacramento)

Hot off the presses from California Food Policy Council (CAFPC), California Food & Farming Network (CFFN), and Roots of Change: The 2017 Food and Agriculture Legislative Tracker.

Slow Food California, a member of CFFN, has endorsed the report. Slow Food California Policy Committee Co-Chairs Brenda Ruiz and Keith Schildt were involved in production of the Tracker and, in consultation with the Policy Committee, in selection of priority bills to track in 2017. Additional Slow Food members and leaders engaged in this process through their local food policy councils; Peter Ruddock and Brenda Ruiz are on the CAFPC Steering Committee. THANK YOU to the many members who wrote letters, made phone calls, testified, and generally helped bring our Slow Food principles to the table. We’ve been heard.

Longtime leader and Slow Food champion Michael Dimock was the instigator of this report 5 years ago – and a catalyzing force to formation of the CAFPC.  More recently, CFFN, a cross-sector group of nonprofits working in the food and agriculture realm at the state capitol, formed as a complement to CAFPC. Slow Food California has been involved since the beginning.

Remarkably, nearly 50% of California legislators achieved a 100% score on our 2017 priority bills. Just as remarkably, of those that were passed, only one bill was vetoed by the Governor. Less hopefully, big business succeeded in keeping our most ambitious, transformative ideas from being considered at all – sugar sweetened beverage tax being the top disappointment this year.

More good news – legislators are paying attention to the Tracker and organizations in seemingly disparate sectors are learning to work together. Environmental justice and hunger activists are interacting with environmentalists and labor representatives. It has been very rewarding to participate and to see the legislative response and interest in these matters that had been dominated too long by industry advocates.

A specific challenge we anticipate in 2018 is trying to reach consensus on AB 626, the Homemade Food Operations Act, a bill to legitimize and regulate home based food production (something of a successor to the Cottage Food law). If done well, this seems to have good potential for home based businesses. Usually aligned advocates have not agreed on how this should be done. As a consequence, the bill was held over. It remains of great interest to Slow Food members and supporters.

What you can do:

  • Check how your legislators scored and let them know you’re watching (thank yous are at least as effective as expressions of disappointment).

  • Find out who in your chapter is participating in the Slow Food California Policy Committee and let them know of your interest (if you are unrepresented, volunteer for our once a month calls).

  • Get ready for Farm Bill 2018. Slow Food California will be collaborating with Slow Food USA to advocate for a good, clean, and fair Farm Bill, a BIG challenge under the current administration. Check out the new Slow Food USA Policy webpage and Slow Food USA’s statement of Farm Bill priorities.

  • Come to the leader’s meeting in the South Bay in later this year and participate in the policy workshop – get the tools you need to be a confident, supported advocate for Good, Clean and Fair food and farming.