On Monday, May 23, the City Council adopted Resolution 31296, supporting the Seattle Farm Bill Principles as policy guidance to the Federal Government in the renewal of the 2012 Farm Bill. Our goal is to have Seattle’s actions will serve as a model for other jurisdictions. On June 4, I presented the Farm Bill principles to the meeting of the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee of the National League of Cities in Kansas City in early June (I am a member of the Committee), and they unanimously approved developing a resolution based on them. The resolution will be considered for adoption by the National League of Cities, representing more than 1600 cities, at our November annual meeting.
The Farm Bill is the primary piece of legislation that determines our nation’s food and agriculture policy and will be renewed in 2012. The 15 Federal Farm Bill titles address important issues including supplemental nutrition assistance programs (SNAP, formally called food stamps), farm, trade, conservation, rural development, research, and food safety programs.
The policies, programs and funding included in the 2012 Farm Bill will affect how successful Seattle can be in achieving our goal of strengthening the local and regional food system, improving the economy, and emergency preparedness.
Seattle, along with other municipalities, faces multiple health, social, and environmental problems connected to food. In 2007, 11% of adults in Seattle ran out of food. In 2008, the incidence of obesity in King County adults was 21%. Currently, 42% of Seattle’s public school students are enrolled to receive free or reduced meals.
Knowing how critical the Farm Bill is to the success of our work to support local food and create a sustainable food system that promotes health, reduces hunger, and supports regional economic security, we endorsed reforming the Farm Bill in the Resolution creating the Local Food Action Initiative in 2008. This action implements that policy direction.
The ‘Seattle Farm Bill Principles’ were developed by a group of community leaders facilitated by Phyllis Shulman of my staff. The goal is to use them to guide decisions by our elected officials in developing policies, regulations, programs, funding opportunities, technical support, and research priorities for a healthy and sustainable food system when the Farm Bill is renewed in 2012.
For more information on the Seattle Farm Bill Principles, please visit http://seattlefarmbillprinciples.org/.