Final Recommendations to State Farm & Food Policy to be Released at 2014 Farm & Food Conference
by Natalie Fullerton
Last spring and early summer over 120 Kansans attended four Farm-to-Fork Summits KRC hosted across Kansas. The day long summits in Greensburg, Iola, Concordia, and Colby focused on understanding specific policies that will help our state’s farmers help make healthful foods– especially fruits and vegetables — the easy, accessible, affordable choice for all Kansans. Each summit offered presentations highlighting the importance of policy to make effective change, panels discussing unique perspectives in each region and open dialogue roundtables around specific policy levers affecting farms and food systems in Kansas.
The effect on local farm and economic development was heavily considered during each summit. Key themes included producer supports needed to increase production of fruits and vegetables, water conservation, and the development of community and regional farm and food task forces, cooperatives, farmers markets, food insecure resources, value added processing facilities and other farm and food systems segments.
Participants who attended the summits included seasoned and beginning farmers, and representatives of community health coalitions, economic development offices, K-State research and Extension, as well as health professionals, retail food business owners, and other advocates interested in the health of Kansans, farms and food systems. The diverse perspectives provided critical feedback necessary to assess the next steps needed in Kansas to advance sectors of our local food systems.
One of these next steps is KRC’s development of a Statewide Farm and Food Assessment and Policy Recommendations plan. This plan will outline the status of our current farm and food system, while providing the critical next steps needed to cultivate specific policies necessary to advance the Kansas farm and food system especially around fruit and vegetable production.
The recommendations will be substantiated through the feedback gained from over 250 state and regional partners, summit attendees and numerous one -on-one interviews from folks in all realms of the food system this past year.
The final plan will be released at the KRC’s 2014 Farm & Food Conference November 7 and 8. Those who attend the conference are welcome to join a special 90-minute session led by KRC staff and policy experts who will unveil the recommendations and offer advocacy advice and tips in response to the recommendations.
Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss and ask questions about the recommendations. The publication will not only seek to educate Kansans about current challenges and opportunities in the farm and food system, but will also be useful as a tool to help mobilize Kansans towards policy change.
This work is part of KRC’s three year “Community Food Solutions for a Healthier Kansas” initiative funded by the Kansas Health Foundation.
The project seeks to advance the farm-to-fork food system across the state. With the first year completed, KRC and their partners will engage and educate citizens and statewide public policy makers to advance the needs identified in the plan during the second and third years of the initiative. KRC will also train regional and local leaders in community food organizing to self- assess their needs and opportunities surrounding healthy food access via local farm production.
The recommendations laid out will provide Kansans the information they need to talk to local or state governments about making the changes recommended in the plan. However, talking to policy makers can be intimidating and knowing where to start can be hard to discern. In the spring of 2015, KRC will once again visit communities across the state to empower grassroots Kansans by providing basic local and state level policy and advocacy training to bolster changes in our farm and food system.
From September-October 2014 Rural Papers