GMOs, trans-fats, and buying local. Food retail in underserved communities, farmland protection, and kicking soda out of public schools. That’s just a partial list of the cutting edge food and agriculture issues seizing the attention of lawmakers and advocates across the country. While hot policy topics like these are heating up everywhere, the places where they are currently burning the brightest are in the nation’s state capitols.
Though the federal government passes mega-legislation like the farm and child nutrition bills once every five years, the spirit of local innovation and the relative flexibility of state governments – to say nothing of the incessant tug of war between Washington and the states – means there’s always something daring being cooked up in state policy kitchens. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state food and farm legislation, 41 states enacted 77 laws during the 2009 and 2010 sessions related to school nutrition, food access, and direct marketing. If one were to add in a host of legislation related to food security, food safety, and farmland protection, the numbers would be far into the hundreds every year. Read more