Make the most of your Policy Briefing experience by starting with the fundamentals. These two complementary workshops will introduce the key principles and mechanisms of policy making and community organizing. Brush up on your knowledge of the legislative process and where funding can be most effective while playing within the rules. Discuss effective organizing, why it’s important, and how it differs from advocacy efforts.
Workshops run 90 minutes each. Half of the participants will begin with Policy 101, the other half with Community Organizing. After a break, it will be time to switch sessions. All Pre-Briefing attendees will participate in both workshops.
No matter what issues you support, region you work in, or communities you serve, public policy has an impact on how you achieve your mission. In this 90-minute workshop, facilitators will guide us through the basics of public policy: yes, you can do it (it’s legal-we’ll explain the rules); what it is and why it is important for nonprofits; how policy is developed, and the ins/outs of legislation, appropriations, rulemaking, implementation, and the hierarchy of how decisions are made; and how political staff and civil servants function differently. Learn to be an effective advocate – while staying within the legal rules – and build meaningful relationships with government.
Facilitators: Helen Dombalis, policy and strategic partnerships director, National Farm to School Network, DC Abby Levine, legal director, Bolder Advocacy, Alliance for Justice, DC Elanor Starmer, national coordinator and advisor, Local and Regional Food Systems, USDA, DC
Community organizing brings people together and gives us the collective voice and power we need to create social change. This workshop will examine the function of community organizing within our socio-political umbrella, and how organizing differs from advocacy. Our facilitators, organizers themselves with rich histories and experiences to share, will outline the basic principles and philosophies of community organizing. Through their stories we’ll learn about the importance of organizing and how we can effect institutional change. They will also share some critical tools and tactics honed over the years for developing and supporting effective campaigns. Come be inspired by the compelling examples of food and farm advocacy and organizing that are helping to change our political landscape.
Facilitators: Michael Sayer, co-founder, senior organizer & training coordinator, Southern Echo, MS Pat Sweeney, executive director, Western Organization of Resource Councils, MT
Join us at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, where drinks and plentiful appetizers will be served. Those interested in a larger meal can check out one of the numerous restaurants easily accessible by foot or metro.
Ron Rudaitis, award-winning producer/director of nationally acclaimed PBS films including “Farming the Future,” will screen a trailer of his current project – “Youth Food Movement” – and engage in a discussion with the audience. The trailer will reflect the tone, spirit and style of the program, intercutting interviews with some of the country’s top sustainable food voices, young farmers, food activists, and young community members with dynamic visuals from working farms and agricultural programs across the country. This piece will provide a taste of the documentary film’s power as a policy-shaping tool for a healthier, more sustainable food system.
Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, organized a group of family farmers and ranchers to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, and along the way built political power with unlikely alliances. By acting in the streets together and taking the fight into local government and the halls of Congress, the alliance worked to connect the issues of clean energy and local food, revive the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, and bridge the urban/rural divide. Jane will describe why it’s time to build a bloc of ‘Mason Jar Voters’ to change food and energy policy and how it is happening in the streets (and corn fields), not just in board rooms.
Funder discussant: Carol Pickering, chair, Policy Briefing Planning Committee; program officer, Dietel Partners, ME
This plenary will focus on deep organizing for social change as a basis for effecting policy change. The speakers will discuss power building at local, state and national levels and help us understand how we can be better at influencing policy with an understanding that power building and base building go beyond funding specific legislation. The speakers bring years of experience with multi-issue, multi-sectorial, multi-race, and inter-generational organizing efforts from different parts of the country. Don’t miss this opportunity to expand your understanding of what it means to engage in policy change.
Speakers: Ricardo Salvador, director and senior scientist, Food and the Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists, DC Michael Sayer, co-founder, senior organizer & training coordinator, Southern Echo, MS Patrick Sweeney, executive director, Western Organization of Resource Councils, MT
Funder discussant: Michael Roberts, program manager, 11th Hour Project, CA
Rather than protecting the marketplace, federal policy often contributes to driving out competition in agricultural commodity and retail food markets, leaving the food system dominated by a small number of very powerful interests. This workshop will explore how corporate concentration in the food system can result in externalized environmental and public health costs and have tremendous impact on those communities on the front lines.
Moderator: Scott Cullen, executive director, GRACE Communications Foundation, NY
Speakers: Wenonah Hauter, executive director, Food and Water Watch, DC Gerardo Reyes Chávez, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, FL Craig Watts, farmer, independent producer, NC
Farm conservation policy has a checkered history of progress interspersed with steps backward. It has proven to be tremendously effective, such as protecting soil after the 1930s Dust Bowl, as well as frustratingly impotent at addressing chronic challenges, including the depletion of carbon in soil and the overconsumption of water. We will review the history of farm conservation and how policies, publicly funded research, and economic drivers have affected farming decisions. Participants will gain a better understanding of how landowners’ use of conservation programs have varied tremendously based on geography and types of crops grown, and that these conservation programs have had a poor record of including farmers and landowners of color. The workshop will also provide an overview of the difference between set-aside programs and working-lands programs, and the unintended consequences that can result from these policy tools. The workshop will close with recommendations from the panel on future opportunities for strengthening conservation on private lands in our current difficult political environment.
Moderator: Bradley Leibov, president/CEO, Liberty Prairie Foundation, IL
Speakers: Ferd Hoefner, policy director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, DC Lorette Picciano, executive director, Rural Coalition, DC Russ Shay, director of public policy, Land Trust Alliance, DC
These days the very definition of an agriculture story has changed. A journalist might need to do a piece on the Farm Bill one day, and one on titanium dioxide in donuts the next. Another day the topic is Brazil’s World Trade Organization mandated cotton payments, and the next it’s the Farm Bureau clamoring for immigration reform. All the while, blog posts from all corners of the agriculture world – from DTN/The Progressive Farmer to FarmPolicy.com to Civil Eats – are pounding the tweet/email universe. How does a “conventional” agricultural journalist cover food and farming in an era of instant news? As newspapers downsize and/or eliminate their agriculture desks, what role is social media playing to fill in those gaps? Can blogs and tweets tell complex policy stories to an information-saturated consumer?
Moderator: Bruce Hirsch, executive director, Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, CA
Speakers: Chuck Abbott, contributing editor, AG Insider, Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN), DC Philip Brasher, editor, CQ on Agriculture & Food, CQ Roll Call, DC
Federal, state, regional and local food policies can directly affect the health of America’s most vulnerable populations – children and those living in poverty. The availability of fresh, affordable and healthy food ideally should be central to our nation’s food policy system, but it represents only a small fraction of what gets authorized and spent. Nutrition standards are under attack due to costs of implementation. Learn how federal nutrition standards and programs work in conjunction – and sometimes in conflict – with on-the-ground efforts such as farm-to-school initiatives, nutrition incentives for SNAP and WIC, and access to healthy food. Using a health lens, speakers will examine how these topic areas are interconnected, how they support each other, and how they can lead to a healthier nation.
Moderator: Livia Marqués, program officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MI
Speakers: Judith Bell, president, Policy Link, CA Deborah Kane, national director, USDA Farm to School Program, DC Roni Neff, director, Food System Sustainability and Public Health, Center for a Livable Future; assistant scientist, Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Funder discussant: Linda Jo Doctor, program officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MI
Beyond the broad brushstrokes of regulatory policy, how can consumers really know what is on their kitchen tables? Environmental Working Group (EWG) has launched a web-based tool that contains data on the nutritional content, additives, and processing of tens of thousands of grocery products, empowering individuals to make truly informed food purchases. Representatives from EWG will demo the food database and lead a discussion about the project that will be continued during an evening dine-around.
Speakers: Scott Cullen, executive director, GRACE Communications Foundation, NY Ken Cook, president, Environmental Working Group (EWG), DC
Pre-Hill Visit Dinner: If you have registered for the Hill Visits, join us at Lebanese Taverna for a mandatory dinner meeting to prepare for our Thursday afternoon meetings with key policymakers at the White House and on Capitol Hill. Staff from NSAC will provide a briefing and overview of the Hill visit.
Dine-Arounds: Sign up at the registration table for a themed dinner focused on a particular policy topic – such as organics, distribution and transportation issues in sustainable ag, or EWG/consumer information access – or just gather a group and march to your own (b)eat.
The U.S. is negotiating two new trade agreements that will directly affect our food and agricultural systems and could have devastating consequences. Decisions being made by U.S. trade negotiators – with input from more than 600 corporate advisors – could end up directly affecting our ability to grow and produce healthy, sustainable food, and there is absolutely no public interest voice in the process.
The good news is that momentum to prevent these agreements from taking effect is growing around the world, and international and U.S. groups are working to prevent these trade negotiations from riding roughshod over the democratic process (and rolling back decades of regulatory advances in the process). Join us for an engaging and entertaining session about this very serious topic to learn what’s at stake, what civil society has accomplished so far, and how funders can play a role in a fight that affects us all.
Moderator: Ruth Richardson, coordinator, Global Alliance For the Future of Food, ON, Canada
Speakers: Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director, International Strategies, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, DC Lori Wallach, director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, DC
The framework for food safety regulation in the United States has emerged in a piecemeal fashion since the early 1900s, typically in reaction to threats and crises, instead of being designed with a proactive and clear strategy for addressing public health from the onset. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, is the first major update to federal food safety policy in more than seventy years, representing a major change to our food system. Without clear guidance, these rules could be appropriate for industrial-scale production and processing while excluding the needs of small and mid-sized family farmers, tribal entities, local and regional food systems, and diversified and organic producers. This workshop will provide an update on the FSMA rulemaking process and insight into where it hits the mark and where concerns remain. The workshop will also discuss efforts to move the food safety discussion beyond issues of microbial contamination to a conversation about measured risks, working with (not against) microbials, and broadening the lens of food safety to the potential impacts of chemical pesticides, manure lagoons, genetically engineered food, and other health implications of an increasingly industrial food system.
Moderator: Hilde Steffey, program director, Farm Aid, MA
Speakers: Jo Ann Baumgartner, director, Wild Farm Alliance, CA Janie Simms Hipp (Chickasaw), director, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, Univ. of Arkansas, School of Law; former senior advisor to the Secretary for Tribal Relations (USDA), AR Brian Snyder, executive director, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, PA
An unusually diverse group of leaders from across the spectrum is coming together to weigh in on immigration reform, a critical and challenging issue that affects everyone across the food system from field to fork. If agriculture is to remain viable into the future in the U.S., immigration reform must be considered – and reconsidered – and moved forward. This workshop will highlight attempts to advance policies at the state and federal levels.
Moderator: Melinda Wiggins, executive director, Student Action with Farmworkers, NC
Speakers: Ann Morse, program director, Immigrant Policy Project, National Conference of State Legislatures, DC Patrick O’Toole, owner, Ladder Livestock; member, AGree Advisory Committee; president, Family Farm Alliance; former WY legislator, WY
As this inaugural Policy Briefing comes to a close, we will reflect on key points of learning and discuss how our funder community can move forward to build power for food systems change. Please lend your voice to this important conversation. Lunch will be served.
Facilitators: Bridget Dobrowski, program & operations manager, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders, CA Kathy Sessions, director, Health & Environmental Funder Network, MD
Join your pre-selected Hill Visit group – either White House/Capitol Hill or Capitol Hill Only – and head to your first destination via Metro-Redline toward Union Station. All participants will be required to bring personal identification as outlined in the preparation email and NSAC conference call.
Limited to 30 participants.
Attendees will meet with key policymakers on Capitol Hill or at the White House. Hill Visits have been planned in partnership with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).