Food Policy Forum

The Washington State Legislature created the Food Policy Forum at the Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) through a budget proviso in 2016. To avoid duplication of effort, the SCC coordinates with The Office of Farmland Preservation and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).

The SCC executive director, in consultation with the director of WSDA, appoints members of the forum. Once appointed, forum members draft potential challenges and solutions and compile this information into a final report of recommended next steps by October 31, 2017.

The budget proviso does not identify topics to be addressed by the Forum. At the first meeting on February 10, 2017, Forum participants began identifying potential topics (see “Topics addressed by Food Policy Forum“). This discussion will continue at the next meeting.

Topics addressed by Food Policy Forum

The following list of possible topics were identified at the first Forum meeting.  They represent the early discussions and are subject to change at future meetings.

  • Build relationships and partnerships with existing food policy groups, food policy efforts, and market sectors – goal to elevate opportunities that may exist for cities, counties, NGO’s.
  • Venue to learn and share information-two way street. I.E. academia research, grant/investor opportunities, identify challenges. Identify the role higher education can play in addressing food policy issues.
  • Identify challenges for small farms such as land availability, regulatory pressures, land conversion. What are the barriers to keep farmland viable?
  • Economic opportunities – especially for small farms. Connecting consumers and producer, building farmers markets and community partners,
  • Opportunities for new farmers. Partnerships and networking help provide key information for new farmers.
  • Focus on food security.  Identify food policy issues at state and local levels and communicate these issues with key decision makers.
  • Incorporate the role of the Conservation Districts to educate farmers on opportunities.
  • Identify existing programs addressing small farms, farm to market, Farm to School, Breakfast After the Bell, and other similar programs.  What has gone well, what hasn’t gone well.  Focus in on the programs that are really working. Communication is key, there is always time to reevaluate.
  • Evaluate food access in Washington and identify opportunities for improvements. Focus on making sure everyone has enough to eat. No one goes hungry, all food is safe for consumers to eat,  increase usage of mobile food banks and farmers markets in both urban and rural areas,  effectively target nutrition and food assistance programs to those who need it, encourage farm to school and farm to family programs.

Are there other topics you’d like to see the Food Policy Forum address? Email us your ideas.

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Interested in becoming a member of the Food Policy Forum?

Please send your contact information to Jillian Fishburn. Requests for membership will be reviewed and determined by the executive director of the Washington State Conservation Commission, the director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and the program manager of the Office of Farmland Preservation.

Updated December 2017

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