How to Lift Localism as a Regional Policy Incentive

(A Central Appalachian Foodshed Conference Session Topic)

Session Host: Leslie Schaller, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet)

This session grappled with the question of how localism could be employed to change policy. Participants noted the importance of considering the emotional and economic value localism has for communities, but to be critical of inflated numbers of jobs and economic return associated with local food systems. They also emphasized the seemingly insurmountable barriers local food systems practitioners face.

The key issues the group identified to frame their session were whether local food systems and local agriculture are influencing policy and politics, and how to get the conversation about local into the local level of politics. One of the driving issues was also thinking about how local food can get onto the radar of politicians so that it is seen as an important issue that needs funding.  

In addition to talking about several of the challenges this work faces, session participants shared some strategies that are working from their perspectives and experiences. One participant noted that storytelling can be a powerful tool in these conversations. Another suggested populating local political positions with food systems practitioners. They also noted the value of consistent communication and networking, allowing politicians to take the credit for ideas and gains, and maintaining a vision for long term goals and outcomes.

Key Issues/Questions:

  • How can localism and local food systems be employed to influence policy and politics?

  • How can we make sure that local food systems are included in policy decisions and is considered in funding decisions?

More notes from the session.