Federal Policy Program
Use these links to jump to the following sections:
Farm Bill •
Federal Budget •
Farm to School & Child Nutrition •
USDA local food support •
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) •
About Our Policy Work
The Community Food Security Coalition's policy work
seeks federal resources in the U.S. to foster
community-based alternatives to the global food system.
CFSC has successfully advocated
to create and reauthorize the Community Food Projects
grant program. Over 100
projects have received funding to strengthen local food
systems, increase low-income
food security while supporting local farmers, and develop
local food planning and
policy organizations through this program. CFSC has also
advocated in support of core nutrition programs as well as the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, which provides vouchers for WIC recipients and low-income seniors to use at farmers markets, and the Farmers Market Promotion Program, helping link farmers to their communities and increase access to healthy, fresh products. Now that the 2013 Farm Bill has become law, the policy staff are tracking the rule-making and implementation processes.
Moving forward, CFSC has begun developing a platform for the 2015 Farm Bill. Please subscribe to our Policy Updates list to keep abreast of our current policy work.
Federal Farm Bill
2015 Farm Bill
Every five years or so, the US adopts a new Farm Bill. This massive
piece of legislation sets the framework for what we eat, whether our
food is nourishing and affordable, what assistance our society provides
to feed hungry people, what crops farmers grow under what conditions,
global grain and fiber markets, and how rural land is used.
This cycle is underway again, as the 2013 version of the law
runs its course. This round of debate over food and farm policy comes
at a time of intense and growing public interest in food issues. It also
comes at a time of economic uncertainty for our families, communities
and nation—when the concept of public investment in our future is under
That is why it’s so important for CFSC, our members and partner
organizations to mobilize around the upcoming Farm Bill. Over the past
15 years, the Farm Bill has been a key vehicle for advancing our agenda,
including by: helping low-income people get access to fresh and healthy
food, promoting farmers markets, getting more local foods into schools,
and supporting community projects that generate jobs and improve food
With our partners, we won significant victories in the 2013 Farm Bill. Now we are gearing up to have a major impact on the 2015 Farm Bill.
Learn more about these efforts on the 2015 Farm Bill page.
2013 Farm Bill
Though not perfect, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2013
- more commonly known as the Farm Bill - makes important incremental
changes in support of local and organic food, conservation and better
agriculture policies. Our 2013 Farm Bill page
has a "short list" of programs that CFSC has followed in the Farm Bill
and their outcomes. For more information on how CFSC's priorities stand
in the conference report, see the Policy Updates on 5/8/2013 and 5/15/2013. For a more in-depth look at the Farm Bill process, you can access our archive of materials on the Farm Bill, and view weekly progress updates in our 2012 and 2013 Policy Update archives.
Read more on the 2013 Federal Farm Bill page.
Since the 112th Congress took office, debate in both the House and
the Senate has focused on cutting government spending. Decisions made in
Washington over the next few months will have a dramatic impact on
people across the country. Low-income people, including participants in
federal nutrition programs, are particularly at risk from the kinds of
cuts being considered.
Learn more about the proposed cutbacks and CFSC's
work to educate members of Congress and the public about the dangers of harsh cuts to human needs programs.
Farm to School and Child Nutrition
Farm to School
connects school cafeterias with local producers to bring students
fresh, healthy foods while supporting the local economy. CFSC is
partnering with the Center for Food & Justice to head the National Farm to School Network, which is coordinating policy efforts around Farm to School issues.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Every five years, the federal Child Nutrition bills, including the
Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Richard B. Russell National School
Lunch Act of 1946, are up for review during the reauthorization process.
These two bills, as well as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program
for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), are currently set to expire on
September 30, 2014. The reauthorization process allows for a
reconsideration of all programs, providing an opportunity to assess what
works well, what isn't working, and ways that these programs can better
serve the more than 30 million children eating school meals every day.
Read more on the Farm to School & Child Nutrition Page
Healthy Food Financing Initiative
The Community Food Security Coalition is working to build awareness
of and grassroots support for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative
(HFFI), which aims to increase access to healthy foods in underserved
communities. President Obama's Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal
includes $350 million for HFFI, but Congress still needs to authorize
this funding. CFSC, along with PolicyLink, The Reinvestment Fund, and
The Food Trust recently hosted a webinar to provide background
information on food access issues, highlight the Pennsylvania Fresh Food
Financing Initiative (the successful model for HFFI), and share ideas
on how to advocate for funding HFFI.
Lugar-Casey Food Security Act
The Lugar-Casey bill (S. 384) addresses global food security and
was introduced in February 2014. This document contains more information
about the bill, as well as links to several related reports and
Lugar-Casey Food Security Act [PDF]
This toolkit is designed to aid you in understanding the U.S.
political process and to empower you to make your voice heard. For more
detailed information on our Government and how it works to "enact the
will of the people" visit www.whitehouse.gov/our_government.
USDA Local Food Support
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan released a memo on August 26, 2014: Harnessing USDA rural development programs to support local and regional food systems.
[PDF] The memo is a welcome call to action on ways that USDA programs
can promote local and regional food systems. Some key points of the
memo are highlighted on the Obama Foodorama blog.
In September 2014, the US Department of Agriculture launched a new initiative, Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food,
(KYF2) led by Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan.
According to the Department, this initiative "is the focus of a task
force with representatives from agencies across USDA who will help
better align the Department's efforts to build stronger local and
regional food systems." "Americans are more interested in food and
agriculture than at any other time since most families left the farm,"
said Merrigan. "'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' seeks to focus that
conversation on supporting local and regional food systems to strengthen
American agriculture by promoting sustainable agricultural practices
and spurring economic opportunity in rural communities."
In a memorandum from Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan
dated October 27, 2014, the Department of Agriculture highlighted its
programs that are being used to support local food systems under their
Research, Education, and Economics mission area. These programs include
Community Food Project grants, Sustainable Agriculture Research and
Education, Small Business Innovation Research, and many others. This is a
helpful resource for anyone hoping to gain a better understanding of
the role USDA can play to support community food security and local food
Women, Infants & Children (WIC)
The Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and
Children (WIC) is a federal nutrition program that offers nutrition
education, health care, and nutrient rich food packages for low-income
pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children. The food packages
are meant to supplement the diets of these vulnerable groups during
periods of growth and development as a preventative health care
intervention, and therefore WIC-eligible foods must be rich in protein,
calcium, iron, vitamin A, and/or vitamin C to meet the increased
nutritional needs of the recipients.
The USDA issued an interim rule in 2012, changing the WIC food
packages to better comply with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for
Americans, and WIC state agencies have until October 1, 2014 to
implement the changes. Some of the major changes to the WIC food
packages for pregnant and lactating women, infants and children include
the addition of whole grains and cash value fruit and vegetable
vouchers, an increase in low-fat milk and canned meat choices, and the
addition of baby food to replace juice for infants. The new WIC food
packages also eliminate servings of cheese and eggs. The interim rule is
open for comments until February 10, 2015, at which point the USDA will
review comments and issue a final rule on the WIC food packages.
Update 2/1/10: In October, Congress increased the
cash value of the WIC fruit/vegetable vouchers for women from $8/month
to $10/month as recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). CFSC
and several other national organizations successfully advocated for this
increase, and we are pleased that USDA is encouraging State WIC
agencies to implement this change as soon as possible, with a deadline
of April 30, 2015.
CFSC is continuing to advocate for improvements in the WIC program.
On February 1, we submitted comments on the WIC Food Packages Interim
Rule to USDA asking for the following improvements:
- Increasing the cash value of the fruit/vegetable voucher for WIC
children to $8/month, and for fully breastfeeding women to $12/month;
- Requiring State WIC Agencies to allow split tender to enable
families to maximize the full benefit of their fruit/vegetable vouchers;
- Requiring State WIC Agencies to allow these vouchers to be redeemed at farmers' markets; and
- Modify WIC regulations to allow states to use the same vendor-related structures as the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).
Read CFSC's comment letter on the WIC Food Packages Interim Rule [PDF]
New Report: State
Implementation of the New WIC Produce Package: Opportunities and
Barriers for WIC Clients to Use Their Benefits at Farmers' Markets [PDF]
The new WIC fruit and vegetable package will create a $500 million
market annually for produce. Even if 10% of these benefits were spent at
farmers markets, it would provide a big boon for access to local food
and to small farmers. This report discovers that half of the states are
shutting farmers markets out of this potentially lucrative market, and
looks at the reasons why.
Press Release about the report [PDF]
Because approximately 80% of the population lives in metropolitan
areas, urban agriculture is an effective and necessary means for the
food insecure to gain access to fresh, affordable, nutritious food.
Urban agriculture can also provide innovative solutions to many other
issues common in urban areas such as air pollution, waste removal,
energy usage, and economic development and community revitalization. The
CSFC's Urban Agriculture Committee is in the process of forming priorities for upcoming legislative opportunities.
Local Food and Farm Support Act (HR 2364)
Section 13: Urban Agriculture Production Program
Provides grants and technical assistance to private non-profits to
promote agricultural production capacity in metropolitan counties.
FOOD for a Healthy America Act (S. 1432)
Tools for Advocacy
CFSC Publications Related to Urban Agriculture
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