Members of the NCAT Gulf States Region office recently attended a food policy council meeting in Mississippi, where representatives from diverse food and farming interests met to discuss priorities.
Food policy councils are springing up across the nation — and the Gulf States — as a means for farmers, ranchers, and policymakers who work in food systems to share experiences and craft solutions to common problems. Often, policymakers are unaware of how rules and regulations may affect those who actually produce food, so policy councils can have a tremendous impact on the actual crafting of policies and priorities.
As explained by the American Planning Association:
“In response to growing concerns about food deserts, obesity rates among children, the loss of prime agricultural lands, a dwindling farmer population, and environmental problems such as soil erosion and water contamination, more and more towns, cities, regions, and states are forming food policy councils (FPCs). Through policy and programmatic strategies, FPCs help local, regional, or state governments address these food system challenges and others.”
At the Oct. 15 meeting at the Mississippi State University CAV Building in Ridgeland, MS, the various food systems interests broke up into discussion groups to find areas of common concern. Gulf States Outreach Coordinator Jim Ewing gave an overview about the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and how it might affect small farmers.
The Mississippi Food Policy Council was established in 2010. For more information, see: http://mississippifoodpolicycouncil.wordpress.com/