Friday, December 3, 2010

New Report Part of CED Clinic Efforts to Reform the Food System

"Food policy is big news. Major newspapers, blogs, and magazines are devoting extensive and prominent coverage to everything from the meat industry’s attack on climate change legislation to deficits in school nutrition, from a renewed interest in artisan food production to the growing number of farmers’ markets.”

So begins a report drafted by Yale Law School students Allison Tait ’11 and Lang Liu ’11 and posted on the website of the National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN).

The report goes on to say that “repeated food contamination scares, the childhood obesity epidemic, and prolonged court battles over food labeling also have catalyzed a new understanding of the harmful and hidden costs of an industrial food system.”

Tait and Liu wrote the report as part of their work in the Ludwig Community and Economic Development Clinic (CED), which is collaborating with NPLAN to address those “harmful and hidden costs” through reform of the United States Farm Bill.

“The farm bill,” says the report, “is the principal piece of legislation that determines agricultural and food policy throughout the United States. Strategies and incentives set by the farm bill have a critical impact on many aspects of food production and consumption, and reforming those policies holds the potential to reform our food system.”

CED has been involved in food policy since helping to incorporate CitySeed six years ago. CitySeed runs the local farmers’ markets but is also engaged in promoting local sustainable food systems. CED drafted a policy paper for the non-profit looking at the regulatory environment that makes it difficult for schools to serve healthy lunches.

That work led to the planning and running of a major food policy conference at Yale Law School last April. Prior to the conference, the clinic and NPLAN organized a day-long workshop in which leaders from a diversity of organizations came together to look at strategies for reforming Farm Bill 2012. Tait, Liu, Jeremy Golubcow-Teglasi ’10, Casey Hinkle ’12, School of Forestry graduate Dominick Grant, and School of Management graduate Shannon Marimon took the lead in planning and running the workshop.

The report drafted by Tait and Liu reflects the insights gained from the workshop and outlines recommendations for future research and action.