While both the Farm Bill and Agricultural Appropriations Bill have a significant impact on food and agricultural policy, local and private ordinances matter. Today’s NY Times features the demise of the CSA on the campus of Fordham University (hosted by the Law School; see http://tinurl.com/452nbkq). The reason? The farm delivery truck was not allowed on campus, unless the sponsors had a one-day catering permit each time the CSA truck made a delivery.
The point of this post is not to point out how silly that requirement is, but instead place this needed requirement in the broader context of how local ordinances were designed at a time when maintaining boundaries between “rural” and “urban” communities was accepted practice. In the face of the desire to increase access to fresh and healthy food by all, this type of regulation will present a significant obstacle in most localities (particularly large, urban settings). Growth in urban farming and even the delivery of rurally produced food will be impeded unless these regulations are modified.
In an ideal world, the call by many cities – a few include NYC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Portland (the list is very long) – to expand urban farming and increase food access would be complemented by changes in regulation. I urge city planners and food policy councils to address the issues head on when developing their planning documents. That said, having spent a decade of my life as a researcher in a federal “think tank,” I know how difficult collaborations across departments can be; however, in this case, the potential payoff for our cities (and our neighboring farmers) is high.