In service of the good food movement, we conduct original research on policy barriers and possibilities in the United States and abroad.
Great Plates Delivered
Senior Nutrition in Pandemic: The California Great Plates Delivered Program
Goldman School of Public Policy student and BFI Policy Assistant Sakeenah Shabazz researched Great Plates Delivered, a COVID-19 emergency response program. This pilot program delivered food to isolated or food insecure seniors and maintained jobs for food workers at risk of unemployment during the pandemic. As of May 2021, the program has served over 55,000 seniors and helped keep almost 900 restaurants open in 40 of California’s 58 counties.
Organic Agriculture & State Governments
Growing Organic, State by State: A Review of State-Level Support for Organic Agriculture
By Laura Driscoll and Nina F. Ichikawa
This report seeks to highlight the opportunities and challenges facing state departments of agriculture as they respond to market and farmer demand to increase organic acreage.
The following key recommendations for state departments of agriculture emerged from this study:
1. Expand Dedicated Organic Support at the State Level
2. Incorporate Organic Agriculture Fully into State Marketing and Promotion Efforts
3. Clarify and Further Disseminate NOP Guidance to States
4. Work Closely with Outside Groups that Serve Organic Farmers
5. Monitor Transition of Cost-Share Administration
6. Expand Language Access for Existing and Prospective Organic Producers
7. Support Future Research and Data Collection
Twenty-one states across four distinct regions were chosen as a representative sample, and the availability of services as well as unique characteristics from each state were compiled through personal interviews, literature reviews, state government documents, and other sources. The states we surveyed represent over $5 billion in sales of organic products and over 3 million acres in organic production across the US.
Policy Analysis Paper: Policy Mainstreaming of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services with a Focus on Pollination
Terra Rose, Claire Kremen, Ann Thrupp, Barbara Gemmill-Herren, Benjamin Graue, and Nadine Azzu
The Berkeley Food Institute collaborated with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to author this publication. It considers the mainstreaming of ecosystem services at both national and international levels, with a focus on pollination services. Following work undertaken through the GEF/UNEP/FAO Global Pollination Project, and through funding from the Norwegian Environment Agency, this publication addresses the interface between science and policy as a contribution to the work of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Soda Tax Revenue Investments
Bay Area Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes: An Evaluation of Community Investments
Sydney Bennet, Nick Draper, Irene Farnsworth, and Fiona McBride
A Goldman School of Public Policy Independent Policy Analysis team worked with the Praxis Project and the Berkeley Food Institute in spring 2019 to investigate the actual implementation of sugary drink tax revenues in those four Bay Area cities. Their report looked at these aspects of the tax allocations: 1) administrative structure; 2) grantmaking; 3) evaluation; and 4) political and policy considerations for future soda tax initiatives. While these taxes are still relatively new, the team found that Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco have, to varying degrees, made equity a focus as well as taking steps to ensure robust and sustainable political support for sugary drink taxes. All four cities enacted their taxes via ballot initiative and three of them created citizen commissions to guide city leadership on spending of funds raised from sugary drink taxes, giving the community consistent opportunity to be involved in the policy enactment and implementation process. The Bay Area cities have also been able to show a direct link between their sugary drink taxes and valuable community programs. Read the full report here.
Redefining Value and Risk in Agriculture
In June 2020, the Berkeley Food Institute and UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment convened farmers, policy experts, advocates, investors, and other stakeholders in the farming community for a virtual roundtable on public-private solutions to advance regenerative agriculture. We agreed on the problem, yet our diverse perspectives necessitated discussion of the broad range of potential and existing solutions.
The group’s recommendations include:
- Develop a More Robust Research Base: Research institutions should advance the scientific case for regenerative agriculture and standardize measurement protocols
- Reform Crop Insurance: Congress and the US Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management: Agency should reform crop insurance to reflect the risk reduction benefits associated with regenerative practices
- Redefine Risk: Federal and state governments, banks and investors should account for the risk reduction benefits of regenerative practices and reflect those benefits in financing and direct payments
- Advance State-Level Policies: State governments should expand investments in effective existing policies like incentive programs and peer-to-peer support network initiatives
- Prioritize Equity in Agricultural Policies: Government at all levels should develop more integrated and equitable systems to serve farmers, such as streamlined technology platforms and more robust technical assistance
- Urge Landowners and Supply Chain Actors to Enable Regenerative Production: Landowners and supply chains should help promote regenerative farming among tenants and farmers by incorporating flexibility into contracts and removing barriers
Download the full report.
Soil Health and Carbon Sequestration in US Croplands: A Policy Analysis
Léopold Biardeau, Rebecca Crebbin-Coates, Ritt Keerati, Sara Litke, and Hortencia Rodríguez
A Goldman School of Public Policy Independent Policy Analysis team worked with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Berkeley Food Institute in spring 2016 to identify current challenges and opportunities in cropland soil health, with a particular focus on soil carbon sequestration. Policy options to increase uptake of NRCS soil health programs in California and Iowa were analyzed, including: adapting existing NRCS technical and financial assistance programs; promoting end-market demand for crops grown through sustainable practices; increasing public-private partnerships; allowing farmers to participate in cap-and-trade; and positioning NRCS as a carbon broker for farmers. Recommendations reflect geographic diversity, crop diversity, and current challenges to soil and farmer economic security, as well as political feasibility. Final results were shared with NRCS state and national staff.
Factors Influencing Farmer Adoption of Soil Health Practices in the United States: a Narrative Review
In 2015, BFI commissioned Liz Carlisle to synthesize the insights of the soil health practices adoption literature, with a focus on U.S. commodity agriculture. While farms, farmers, and farm communities are too heterogeneous to represent with a single model, this review found five emergent themes: 1) differences in perspective along the adoption continuum; 2) interaction among soil health practices; 3) qualitatively different pathways to incremental and transformative change; 4) noneconomic farmer motives; and 5) the key role of larger farm and food system context. Reviewing recommendations for increasing the adoption of soil health practices, this study found that a complementary approach—combining education, research, policy, measures to overcome equipment barriers, and efforts to address farm and food system context—holds the most promise.
The Economics of Soil Health: Current Knowledge, Open Questions, and Policy Implications
Soil health plays an important role in agricultural productivity, environmental resiliency, and ecosystem sustainability. However, this hard-to-quantify holistic concept has proven difficult to incorporate into existing economic and policy frameworks. This report summarizes existing knowledge about the economics of soil health, suggests a methodology for studying the economics of soil health, identifies areas with a need for further research, and discusses current and potential policies that address the economics of soil health. Important components of optimal soil health management include search costs for information, private vs. public benefits, land ownership, carbon policy, and the natural dynamics of soil health characteristics. A case study (Berazneva et al., 2014) is highlighted as an application of an economic framework to soil health in Kenya, suggesting the need for similar studies focused on American agricultural systems. The framework developed in this report suggests that soil health policies focus on increasing access to information and internalizing the positive externalities of healthy soils. However, the magnitude of how far the status quo is from an economic optimum is unclear.