To:      Slow Food CA Region Chapter Leaders

From:  Slow Food CA Region Policy Committee

Date:    July 30, 2013

Re:       Midterm report on policy actions taken by Slow Food CA Region in 2013

To the terrific chapter leaders of Slow Food California Region:

We will soon complete our first full year as a Slow Food California Region. Though we have yet to devise the optimum method of communicating with Slow Food California members, we wanted to report to chapter leaders on our activities and challenges as your Slow Food CA Region Policy Committee.

First, some context: At the end of last year on short notice we sent to California Chapter Leaders our first ever Policy Priority Survey. We asked for your areas of interest weighted in terms of your willingness to take action. Over half the California chapters responded, with these priorities: 1. Farm Bill, 2. GMOs, 3. School gardens, 4. Food Policy Councils, 5. Cottage Food Law implementation, 6. Urban Agriculture.

Chapter leaders will receive a new survey this Fall. You will also be asked to identify chapter members who would like to be more involved in taking action on policy at the state and national level. We will create a special email list for focused communications.

Next, our early success: AB 343 (Ag Gag) – with Slow Food California support, a coalition lead by the Humane Society of the United States, persuaded Assemblymember Jim Costa to withdraw his bill before it was heard.  Whistleblowers who report animal abuse by feedlots and similar operations can continue their undercover work.

And then there was the Farm Bill: Our committee members spent a lot of time working with National Sustainable Ag Coalition, Environmental Working Group, and others trying to persuade California Representatives to support amendments and spot bills that would yield an equitable farm bill. Our success was mixed, with some surprising disappointments and some gratifying surprises. Of course the House failed to pass a comprehensive bill and has since passed a bill stripped of food stamps (SNAP).

Slow Food USA, Slow Food California, and Slow Food Orange County are on record with 243 groups from all over the country demanding a full and fair Farm Bill to be passed this summer. The NSAC press release is here http://sustainableagriculture.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Full-and-Fair-Farm-Bill-Now-Statement.pdf

– we are in very good company.

We authored blog posts for Slow Food USA about why the Farm Bill matters: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/slow_food/blog_post/farm_bill_july_2013_update

http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/slow_food/blog_post/farmbill2013

spoke on the radio http://ecotopiakzfr.weebly.com/program-archives.html

and debated the best way forward. We’re still at it!

GMO labeling initiatives on the federal level (Boxer) have our support. The King Amendment to the Farm Bill (which would preempt state labeling laws) earned our opposition. We are working with Slow Food International to build the coalition of Slow Food members who support GMO labeling and are interested in related issues.

More on the State level: Urban Agriculture Incentives AB 551 (Ting) has our support. A proposal to require CSAs to register with the State and imposing new statewide standards AB 224 (Gordon) is under consideration. We’re asking CSA’s within our network for their views.

Draft training materials plus legislative contacts with staff for each chapter – Stephanie Georgieff with the help of an energetic intern has created a draft of training materials plus contact lists for each chapter, including the staff names associated with food policy. It’s a huge task and will be ready for roll out at a Regional Meeting proposed for November in San Diego – with regional trainings to follow.

Policy work is a small but meaningful part of what we do as Slow Food members supporting good, clean, fair food for all: Eat, Learn, Act.

We welcome your interest, comments, suggestions – and participation!

Charity Kenyon (Sacramento), Chair

Stephanie Georgieff (Redlands) Vice-Chair

Dom Fiume (So. Cal. Gov., San Diego)

Matt Jones (SFUSA Bd. Directors, liaison)

Ruth Begel (Solano County)

Peg Champion (South Bay)

Kari Hamerschlag (East Bay)

Laurie Koran (Solano County)

Rick Neugebauer (Temecula)

Jessie Phillips (Tahoe)

Mary Rousseve (Sacramento)

Brenda Ruiz (Sacramento)

Diana Tierney (Orange County)