2017 and 2018 Elections: Food-and-farm platforms, food-and-farm candidates

2017 and 2018 Elections: Every candidate a food-and-farm candidate?
Statewide Food-and-farm Platforms

Posted July 28, 2017

On June 26, 2017 I posted a query to two of the largest and most active national and North American food-and-farm listservs — COMFOOD (Tufts Univ.) and FPN (Food Policy Networks – Johns Hopkins Univ.).

Does anyone have a good food-and-farm plank for a STATE election platform? specifically, for a gubernatorial campaign?
Has any recent U.S. gubernatorial candidate run on a food-and-farm platform?

Just one or two sentences would be great. Or an actual plank from an actual U.S. state platform.

GOAL: My primary interest is to create better, more concrete public discussions during Illinois elections and to create real planks and platforms for which winning candidates can be held accountable during a measurable timeframe — e.g., the first year in office.

STRATEGY: The strategy toward that goal is to
— develop an Illinois food-and-farm platform (5-10 planks — individual actionable items that are specific enough for measurement)
— get every candidate to adopt at least one plank, thereby becoming a food-and-farm candidate
— so that food-and-farm is now an Illinois campaign issue, with a real track record
— so that the winner is automatically a food-and-farm candidate


RESPONSES: I received a number of great responses, but most were long (including one book!) — not 1-2 sentences. In a separate blogpost, I will be doing some detailed analysis, but here is the raw information I received (along with two other relevant documents)

I’ve compiled the responses into two versions, a complete version (including all the context that people sent) and a short version (mostly bullet points)
COMPLETE VERSION:  a 23-page PDF, the contents of which are listed below.

There are 10 separate “platforms” but only 4 are state-level platforms from actual states, developed by the people who live there (Illinois, Maine, New York, Virginia). However, there is a lot of good messaging, good context, etc., in all.  For the moment, I offer these documents as action-oriented study guides for grassroots groups, etc.

NEXT STEPS for 2017 and 2018 elections
— in Illinois (statewide platform)
— in the other 49 states (statewide platforms)
— adapt statewide platforms for local races (county, municipal, school board, etc.)
— adapt statewide platforms for national initiatives (Farm Bill, etc.)

Not surprisingly (post-2016 presidential election), other food-and-farm organizations are
— getting active around the next elections (mostly 2018, but there are some 2017 elections)
— concentrating on state and local jurisdictions
— really honing their messaging and organizing to be more politically effective

a. Resist + Regenerate (a project of Organic Consumers Assn. + Regeneration International).
I was delighted to learn about the new Resist + Regenerate initiative. We have agreed to work together informally on
— helping residents of each state develop their own food-and-farm platforms, which can also be adapted for local elections (county, city, school district, etc.). This will be accomplished primarily through a growing network of Meet-up groups.
— using Illinois as one of the states to really push the grassroots organizing and platform development
— using our state-by-state learning to craft a better, more unified national platform that can be used by any and all food-and-farm organizations for (a) 2020 national elections, and (b) Farm Bill discussions (which start officially next year I believe).

Resist + Regenerate is currently drafting a press release on the project. Stay tuned for the formal announcement, but the project is already underway. If you want to connect with this initiative directly (or start a group in your state), here’s the link about the campaign (including a map of existing Meet-up groups):

b. Illinois
In addition to working through the Meet-up groups of Resist + Regenerate (there are already a number of them in Illinois), I will continue to work through the other Illinois food-and-farm networks, to cross-pollinate our platform and candidate development efforts.


CONTENTS OF the 23-page PDF, a complete compilation of the responses that I got.

1. Pages 1-2
Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Plan – Goals for 2020
(published and adopted by the Illinois General Assembly in 2009)

2. Pages 2-4
Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Plan — Complete list of Obstacles and Solutions for Building an Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Economy

3. Page 5: From Alexis Baden-Mayer (Political Director, Organic Consumers Assn.)
Virginia: Candidates who will Resist & Regenerate (in 2017)

4. Pages 6-7: From Bob St. Peter (Maine) – email sent to COMFOOD in December 2013
List of Needs of Maine’s Farmers and Farm Workers

5. Pages 8-11: From Elizabeth Henderson (Peacework CSA, New York)
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Justice – Green Party platform of Howie Hawkins
Candidate for governor, New York, 2010

6. Pages 12-13: From Mark Dunlea (New York)
Howie Hawkins platform (2010), Green Party candidate for governor, New York
Colia Clark, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senator from New York

7. Pages 14-15: From Mark Dunlea (New York)
Green Party platform – national
Compiled by Denis Spisak, Green Party of Ohio Nominee for Governor

8. Pages 16-20: From Brad Wilson (Iowa)
Pro-Farmer State Strategy: Reconcile Farm Justice with Sustainability

9. Page 21: From Patti Edwardson Naylor (Iowa)
— Questions for candidates: national-global platform
— Open letter from League of Women in Food & Agriculture to 2017 U.S. Presidential Cabinet

10. Page 22 & 23: From Navina Khanna (HEAL, California)
— Plate of the Union Platform (a national platform?)
— Heal Food Alliance (a national platform?)

Not included in the compilation were two other recommendations that may be worth investigating.
— Two people recommended checking out Francis Thicke’s campaign materials (including his book) from his 2010 run for Secretary of Agriculture of Iowa. I did not receive anything short enough or succinct enough to include.

— One respondent reminded me of Chellie Pingree (U.S. Rep. from Maine) but in 2012 I didn’t find anything usable from Rep. Pingree’s website.

Democracy in Action: Participatory Budgeting Petition – Evanston, IL

Democracy in Action: Participatory Budgeting Petition – Good Neighbor Fund
(Evanston-Northwestern University)
Posted July 1, 2017


Evanston residents
Members of the Northwestern University community (students, faculty, staff)
Friends of Evanstonians and Northwestern folks
Anyone who cares about real democracy
Maria Hadden, Participatory Budgeting Project – Chicago
Ines Sommer – filmmaker, Count Me In
Thea Crum — Great Cities Institute, University of Illinois-Chicago – partner to Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP)

Hi, all —

I have just posted a MoveOn petition recommending a public process to allocate the 2017-18 Good Neighbor Fund, the annual $1,000,000 that Northwestern University donates to the City of Evanston.

Specifically, I am recommending the use of PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING, a wonderful technique for experiencing democracy in action. You can sign the petition or read more about PB and the Good Neighbor Fund at the petition site:

Why Participatory Budgeting?
— PB is a common sense process for making group decisions about public resources.
— Everyone can be involved at every decision point of the process — from design to project suggestions to final allocation.
— Grounded in reality, not abstract theory. Real money is on the table — in this case $1,000,000
— Usually funds multiple projects at once — not one winner takes all
— Creates long-term working relationships among residents, officials, and other community stakeholders.
— Cuts through entrenched civic stalemates — e.g., police citizen oversight board, library audit, school gap, board & commission quorum issues, affordable housing
— Satisfying personal and communal experience
— Restores trust in our collective adult responsibility to promote good decision-making for the benefit of all

In other words, real people coming together to make real decisions about real resources and real issues in real time with real results.

Good Neighbor Fund — official NU webpage & description of fund
2015 allocation (news article)
2016 allocation (news article)

Participatory Budgeting Project
New York-based non-profit with a Chicago office


If you agree that Evanston and Northwestern would benefit from a “democracy in action” experience, please:
1. Sign the petition
2. Add your own comment on the petition
3. Share the petition with other Evanstonians and NU folks

Here’s to real democracy in our lifetime….