It’s officially farm bill season. At our AGree forum last week, participants were polled as to when they anticipate passage of the next farm bill. A slight majority voted for 2019. I don’t agree with that prediction. The first farm bill I worked on was in 1990 and since then I have worked on farm bills passed in 1996, 2002, 2008, and 2014. Do you see a pattern? All even years - if I were a gambler, my money would be on 2018, and in a worst case scenario, 2020. The reason is that, following an election, a new Congress convenes in the odd years and it’s difficult to immediately take on such a large bill with new members and oftentimes shifts in committee membership. And after a surprising 2016 election and potential congressional upheaval in the 2018 November elections, I’m convinced that Congress will strive to complete the bill sooner rather than later, particularly because dairy and cotton farmers are clamoring for new law. The only wrinkle that I see is the potential for an essentially no-change farm bill to be wrapped up as part of budget reconciliation at any point in time, with cuts to key programs like SNAP contributing to overall budget reduction. Regardless of timing, we are heading into a critical season for food and ag in Washington.
Last week we partnered with Food Tank to host a Summit on our campus - the auditorium was packed, but it was the online audience that stunned me – 40,000 over the course of the day. Interest in food and ag has never been greater. Dr. Michael Fernandez, a Senior Fellow with the GW Sustainability Collaborative and a longtime colleague of mine, shared an interesting observation. He was emphasizing the extent to which food discussions are widespread and diverse, and among his proof points was a contrast I found especially striking: celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has 6.25 million followers on Twitter, whereas the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees have a combined following of 78.8 thousand. We’re going to be digging into questions of how people get their information on food and ag policy here at the GW Food Institute.
I want to highlight two great blogs this issue. Michael Fernandez provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of food venture capital and my students offer reflections on the Food Tank Summit.
February 18, 9am-4pm: 2017 Rooting DC Forum. For the past ten years, the Rooting DC forum has been the central meeting ground for individuals and nonprofits looking to grow a healthier food system in the nation’s capital. Find out more details about the event here.
March 29, 7-8:30pm:Chef José Andrés, Special Adviser to President Knapp on food issues, will host an evening lecture in Jack Morton Auditorium as the second installment of the Sustainable Plate series. José will discuss the role of chefs in food policy. RSVP here.
Kathleen Merrigan, GW Food Institute Director, also made headlines saying that"Dark Forces" are coming for organic foods at the Food Tank Summit.
Mary Cheh, DC Councilwomen and GW Food Institute Faculty Affiliate, wasinterviewed by Food Tank giving more detail to her food-centered policies.
Many of the GW Food Institute community partners that are fighting food insecurity in DC were featured in Washington City Paper, including DCGreens and DC Central Kitchen. Modern farmer gave readers a rundown on another community partner, Wholesome Wave and their FVRx program.
Lance Price, Food Institute Faculty Affiliate, was featured in New Scientist in a piece about antibiotic resistance being spread from farms to people.
The Institute for International Economic Policy, led by Stephen Smith -- a GW Food Institute Faculty Affiliate, held a conference reviewing the IMF Regional Economic Outlook Report.