Developing Food Policy

16 April 2010 - Event
16 April 2010 to 17 April 2010


Jun Borras

Organised by

Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal and Community Economic Development Clinic

Food policy implicates a broad range of pressing humanitarian, public health, and environmental challenges. These challenges include, among many others: ending hunger, promoting rural economic development, protecting the safety of the food supply, reversing the obesity and diabetes epidemics, and averting catastrophic climate change.  Addressing any and all of these challenges requires the development of healthy, sustainable, and equitable food systems. The aim of our conference, Developing Food Policy, is to help participants bring about patterns of food production that honor the universal right to food, the health and well-being of communities, and the preciousness of natural resources.  The conference will bring together leading policymakers, scholars, activists, students, and farmers to discuss strategies for achieving food systems guided by those values.

Developing Food Policy will explore two distinct “tracks” for reform through two concurrently-run series of panels. The U.S. Track will focus on interconnections among U.S. agricultural policy, public health, and the environment, while considering avenues for pushing food law in healthier and more sustainable directions. The International Track will examine reform strategies, both on local levels and in transnational fora, aimed at ensuring food access in the developing world.  The conference keynote issue lunches, and a concluding conversation will bring these two “tracks” together to reflect on common themes, such as the impact of technological innovation and the importance of a systemic approach to reform.


U.S. Track

* Subsidizing Healthy Communities
9:00-10:30 am
Moderator: Kelly Brownell, Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity at Yale
Panelists:  Jim Harkness, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Ferd Hoefner, Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Kathy Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition

This panel will focus on ways in which Farm Bill subsidies contribute both to environmental degradation and to poor nutrition.  Panelists will generate strategies for redirecting subsidy spending to promote sustainable farming and access to fresh, healthy food—and will discuss the political organizing that might be necessary to achieve such reform.

* Assessing the Costs of "Bigness"
10:45 am -12:15 pm
Moderator: Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale Law School
Panelists: Mary Hendrickson, University of Missouri Extension; Margaret Mellon, Union of Concerned Scientists; George Priest, Yale Law School

This panel will focus on the health, environmental, social, and economic impacts of the market concentration characteristic of our industrial food system.  Panelists will discuss strategies for de-concentrating food production, including the legislation of a Farm Bill "Competition Title" and stepped-up antitrust enforcement.

* Farming for the Future
1:45 - 3:15 pm
Moderator: Peter Crane, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Panelists: Fred Kirschenmann, Aldo Leopold Center for Sustainability; Carol Kramer-LeBlanc, USDA; Dennis Nuxoll, American Farmland Trust

This panel will focus on the intersection of U.S. agricultural policy and climate change. Panelists will describe farming techniques that conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will also suggest legislative strategies for promoting and regulating these climate-friendly farming practices.

International Track

* Global Challenges to Food Access
9:00-10:30 am
Room 127
Moderator: Amy Chua, Yale Law School 
Panelists: Jun Borras, St. Mary's University; Carmen G. Gonzalez, Seattle University School of Law; Ellen Messer, Brandeis University; Annie Shattuck, Food First;

This panel will explore the current and impending barriers to securing equitable food access in the developing world.  The panel will focus in particular on economic and legal structures that influence the global distribution of food.  In addition, panelists will discuss the increasing concentration of agricultural production and the developing problem of "land grabs."

* Comparing Food Policy Reform Strategies
10:45 am -12:15 pm
Room 127
Moderator: Jim Silk, Yale Law School
Panelists: Saulo Araujo, Grassroots International (Mesoamerica); Marc J. Cohen, Oxfam America (Ethiopia); Colin Gonsalves, Human Rights Law Network (India)

Speakers on this panel will draw from their national experiences with food policy reform.  Panelists will take a case study approach and examine a range of legal tools, including constitutional amendment, domestic and international litigation, policy reform, civil society mobilization, appeals to supranational networks, and legislative change.  This panel will reflect on recent activity in India, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Mesoamerica.

* International Institutions & the Right to Food
1:45 - 3:15 pm
Room 127
Moderator:  Lea Brilmayer, Yale Law School
Panelists: Marc Edelman, Hunter College (CUNY); Smita Narula, New York University Law School;  Flavio Valente, FoodFirst Information and Action Network

This panel will focus on the roles of international institutions, international law, and transnational social movements in the development of food policy.  Panelists will comment on topics such as: international norm-setting, foreign aid, and the comparative efficacy of supranational bodies (e.g., the United Nations) versus transnational social movements mobilized on the grassroots level (e.g., Via Campesina).  They will also comment on international legal tools that can be employed for creating food policy and ensuring access to food for all.

* Concluding Conversation
3:30 - 4:30 pm
Room 127

Developing Food Policy: U.S. and International Perspectives will conclude with a conversation among panelists and participants in both the U.S. and International tracks. Three speakers will each suggest one or two specific, concrete steps that individuals can take to help bring about patterns of food production that honor the universal right to food, the health, well-being and autonomy of communities, and the preciousness of natural resources. Conference participants will then be invited to share their own ideas about next steps within a moderated discussion format.