Last week the National League of Cities (NLC) held its annual conference, and Seattle won two victories in the voting on Saturday, November 12. Our first success came when I was elected to a two-year term as one of 18 new and reelected members of the Board of Directors chosen to represent the more than 1,600 member municipalities governing the organization. I will be the first Seattle elected official to serve on the NLC Board since former Councilmember Sue Donaldson, who served in 1997-1998.
It is an honor to be chosen by my peers to serve the National League of Cities in this capacity. In 2013, NLC will bring its national conference to Seattle, and I look forward to showcasing our work to the thousands of attendees. At the conference, I presented at a workshop on economic development and facilitated a workshop on local food policies and initiatives. I also represented Seattle as a member of NLC Committee on Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources (EENR) and the City Futures Panel on Community and Regional Development.
Our second success came when the NLC passed a far-reaching resolution entitled “Supporting Healthy Food, Public Health, and Sustainability Practices in the 2012 Farm Bill,” calling for a new Farm Bill that emphasizes supporting regional food systems, healthy food, sustainable agriculture, and social justice for farmers and farm workers. The resolution was modeled on Seattle City Council’s Farm Bill resolution 31296 adopted earlier this year based on the Seattle Farm Bill Principles, and was developed by the EENR Committee at its 2011 meetings.
The Farm Bill is the primary piece of legislation that determines our nation’s food and agriculture policy. The NLC agreed that the 2012 Farm Bill must include a broader perspective on this country’s food system. It is important that rural, urban and suburban communities all have a voice in determining the policies that directly affect their economic and social well-being. By adopting a national resolution intended to improve federal food policy, municipalities can help reshape the policies in the current Farm Bill, adopted in 2008.
To help solve our nation’s many health, social, economic and environmental challenges, the nation needs a comprehensive, health-focused food system that addresses the goals of hunger and disease reduction, local and family farm viability, food affordability and accessibility, environmental protection, land use planning, regional resilience, and social justice.
An increased number of local municipalities are beginning to realize the impact that the U.S. food system—characterized by heavy reliance on chemicals, increased processing of foods, long transportation times, and inequitable access to fresh food, particularly for low–income people—is having on health, local food security, hunger, emergency preparedness, climate protection, and economic development. NLC demonstrated that it is a beacon for progressive policies in a bleak national environment by adopting principles for a new Farm Bill that would transform this country’s food system.
The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. Working in partnership with the 49 state municipal leagues, the NLC serves as a resource to and an advocate for the more than 19,000 cities, villages and towns it represents. More than 1,600 municipalities of all sizes actively participate as leaders and voting members in the organization.