“All politics are local politics” ~Tip O’Neill

Tip would probably agree that like politics, much of our food comes back to what is local. In the recent  presidential campaign there was not a lot of talk about agriculture. The talk of pigs had to do with lipstick, not a succulent roasting recipe.

Now that we can get back to the business of governing, it’s time to ask how the Obama Adminstration will shape policies that benfit small farms and rural communities. I heard on the radio yesterday that Obama will set up a special office that focuses on urban affairs and resources. Knowing full well the inefficiencies that come with large, city bureacracies, (I used to work in San Francsisco’s City Hall) I’m all for a White House liason that will help cities and counties better navigate the federal programs designed to help them.

I would love to see more partnerships between cities and rural areas. I love the idea of city dwellers looking to local farms and ranches for their food. “Localvores” are a perfect bridge between urban and rural America. Through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), school gardens, buying clubs, and chefs and retailers who seek out local food, we can all thrive. City dwellers would have fresh, healthy food while supporting a local economy and – in many cases – an environmental cause, such as healthy watersheds on grassfed cattle ranches.

 I talk with people in agriculture every day. There are concerns about Obama’s Adminstration imposing more regulations on the agricultural industry. There are conerns about taxes, both capital gains and estate. People fear private property rights may be taken away. I understand these concerns, but I also believe Obama, and whoever he appoints as Secretary of Agriculture, will set policy based on non-partisan, fact-based discussions with stakeholders. He will use the power of his online presence, his army of volunteers across America, and his wide swath of supporters that span ages, nationalities and regions to gather input. That’s how he has done it all along and I see no indication of that changing.  He will seek the local opinion before he sets a federal policy.

Let’s hope the healthy agricultural policies begin in the White House, with the chef sourcing ingredients from the many farms that surround Washington, D.C.

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