Posts Tagged ‘agricultural policy’


Hungry for Change: Five Blogs Every U.S. Food Activist Should Follow

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By Sophie Wenzlau

Blogs are a dynamic medium to share and learn information about topics related to sustainable agriculture (e.g., rooftop gardening, Farm to School programs, and agricultural policy). Today, Nourishing the Planet recommends five blogs that provide useful information and insightful commentary on current issues in sustainable agriculture in the United States—blogs every food activist should follow.

(Photo Credit:

1. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Blog 

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.

NSAC publishes weekly blogs on agricultural policy as it relates to topics such as the U.S. Farm Bill, beginning farmers, Farm to School programs, agriculture appropriations, minority farmers, and organic agriculture. NSAC envisions an agricultural system where “a safe, nutritious, ample, and affordable food supply is produced by a legion of family farmers who make a decent living pursuing their trade, while protecting the environment and contributing to the strength and stability of their communities.”

Recent posts you won’t want to miss include: Strengthening Policy for Soil Health and a Food Secure World, Path to the 2012 Farm Bill: Is a Deal Possible and What Would A Good Deal Look Like?, and What’s at Stake: Energy Savings and Renewable Energy for Producers and Rural Businesses.

2. The Seedstock Blog

Seedstock is an organization focused on innovation and sustainability in agriculture; it promotes agricultural startup companies, university research, urban agriculture initiatives, and farmers employing innovative agricultural techniques.

The organization publishes an informative daily blog on topics related to agricultural innovation and sustainability, current events, and sustainable farms. Recent posts include: National Farmers Market Directory Sees 52 Percent Spike in Winter Listings, Hydroponic Urban Ag Startup Seeks to Create Scalable, Sustainable and Affordable Model to Feed Cities, and N.C. State CEFS Report Lays Out Strategies to Reduce Environmental Impact of Outdoor Hog Production.

3. City Farmer News

City Farmer News, an organization based in Vancouver, Canada, encourages urbanites to plant food gardens in lieu of grassy lawns. The organization believes that “shoemakers, fashion models, computer geeks, politicians, lawyers, teachers, chefs…all city dwellers…can grow food at home after work in back yards, community gardens or on flat roofs.”

The City Farmer blog is a collection of stories about urban farmers from around the world. It is an excellent resource for anyone interested in urban farming and urban agricultural policy.

4. The Environmental Working Group Blog 

The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a lobby and research organization, is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. The organization is perhaps best known for criticizing the continuation of subsidies to big agribusinesses.

The EWG food blog provides a critical perspective on topics like the U.S. Farm Bill, school nutrition, local food, and food system transparency. Recent posts include: Americans Eat Their Weight in Genetically Engineered Food, Dairy’s Downward Spiral a Consequence of Broken Biofuels Policy, and California Boosts Funding Opportunities for a New Generation of Sustainable Farmers and Local, Healthy Food.

5. Civil Eats

Civil Eats is a daily news source for critical thought about the U.S. food system. The organization, founded in 2009, is a community resource of more than 100 contributors who are, “active participants in the evolving food landscape from Capitol Hill to Main Street.” Civil Eats is committed to building socially and economically just communities by promoting sustainable agriculture.

The blog is divided into sub-topics: business and technology, eating culture, energy policy, environment, food access, food policy, grow your own, health, in the kitchen, life on the farm, re-localize, and take action. It also features multiple blog series, such as Young Farmers Unite and Local Eats.

Other notable agriculture blog sites are: Wasted Food, U.S. Food Policy, La Via Campesina, Yale Sustainable Food Project, Think Forward, and Food Politics.

Sophie Wenzlau is a staff researcher with the Worldwatch Institute.  


Innovation of the Week: Policy Analysis at Your Fingertips

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By Ronica Lu

The Farm Bill Budget Visualizer, recently released by the Center for a Livable Future (CLF) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is an innovative, web-based application that provides a visually pleasing, interactive breakdown of Farm Bill legislation spending.

A screenshot of the Farm Bill Budget Visualizer’s homepage (Photo Credit: Food and Tech Connect)

The Farm Bill is a comprehensive omnibus bill, first passed in 1973 and updated every four or five years, that deals with food and agricultural affairs under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Farm Bill is the primary food and agricultural policy tool of the U.S. federal government and addresses issues from numerous perspectives—including everything from food assistance and nutrition education, to efforts to improve access to fruits and vegetables.

With the upcoming release of the updated 2012 Farm Bill from Congress later this year, the Budget Visualizer helps the general public, advocacy groups, and policymakers make connections between the provisions of the bill and the amount of federal spending allotted to each program.

The visualizer displays Farm Bill programs in collapsible and expandable boxes. The sizes of the boxes are proportional to the amount of funding the programs receive. The use of the app does not require a software download, but does use the latest versions of Java and Adobe Flash.



World Food Prize Recognizes Leadership in Agriculture, but More Policy Support Is Needed to Feed the World’s Hungry

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Policymakers around the world need to step up their efforts to combat hunger, malnutrition, and poverty by providing greater support for agriculture. The winners of this year’s World Food Prize show how policymakers and leaders who invest in their countries’ agricultural futures can make lasting change.

The World Food Prize this year will honor two heads of state who have invested in agriculture and reduced hunger and poverty in their countries. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The World Food Prize, awarded each year since 1994 and sponsored by businessman and philanthropist John Ruan, recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world, thereby helping to boost global food security. This year, the prize will be awarded to John Agyekum Kufuor, the former president of Ghana, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former president of Brazil, for their outstanding achievements in reducing hunger in their countries. The ceremony will take place during the Borlaug International Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, from October 12 to 14.

Both of this year’s World Food Prize recipients have made considerable contributions to their countries’ agricultural sectors. Under former Ghanaian President Kufuor’s tenure, both the share of people suffering from hunger and the share of people living on less than $1 dollar a day were halved. Economic reforms strengthened public investment in food and agriculture, which was a major factor behind the quadrupling of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) between 2003 and 2008. Because 60 percent of Ghana’s population depends directly on agriculture, the sector is critical for the country’s economic development.



UN Promotes New Food Policy in Mexico as Hunger Persists and Obesity Rises

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By Amanda Strickler

In July, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter called on the Mexican government to adopt a national strategy that will promote the right to food by addressing poverty and inadequate diets simultaneously. Over 18 percent of Mexico’s citizens are food insecure while obesity now plagues other portions of the country’s population, according to the De Schutter. The prevalence of obesity in Mexico now falls second to only one other country in the world—the U.S.

According to Olivier De Schutter, Mexico will need to adapt a national strategy to improve nutritional habits. (Photo credit:

De Schutter attributes the hunger-obesity paradox to mono-cropping and export-led agriculture—combined these farming practices result not only in poor dietary diversity, but also increase poverty by limiting economic opportunity for smallholder farmers. A new agrarian policy is necessary to rebuild local food systems and spur economic growth, according to De Schutter. “It {Mexico} should start by developing pro-poor agricultural policies: the current policies favour the richest states, the richest municipalities and the richest producers,” De Schutter said.

Promoting agroecological food production will also help to fight obesity by offering better local access to robust and nutritious foods. According to De Schutter, current agricultural and trade policies in Mexico are not created to do this. “Agricultural policies and social policies aiding consumers should be made mutually supportive and support local food systems that could present most benefits for consumer and small-scale farmers alike.