Debra Eschmeyer

Debra is an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Food & Society Fellow and the communications and outreach director of the National Farm to School Network, which is a program of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. While she continues her passion for organic farming on her fifth-generation family farm in Ohio, she currently plows with her pencil from Washington, DC.

White House call

What I learned at Michelle Obama’s historic obesity summit

FLOTUS with the mostest: Michelle Obama addessses the Obesity Summit.When President Obama established a “Presidential task force on childhood obesity” in February, Grist’s Tom Laskawy wondered whether our nation’s first federal food policy council had quietly sprung into being. In a food policy council, the key stakeholders of a region’s food system come together to assess the current food situation and envision ways it might be improved. Food policy councils are a growing phenomenon at the state and municipal level, but such a thing had never existed before at the national level. Does it now? Well, last week I had …

Getting aggro

Blowin’ in the wind: The true meaning of ‘ag unity’

Of the 50 or so food and farm conferences I’ve attended in the last several years, the Drake Forum for America’s New Farmers: Policy Innovations & Opportunities held March 4-5 in Washington, D.C., rises to the top. Actual farmers — not just commodity crop growers but innovative “agripreneurs” like Xe Susane Moua from Minnesota and Rosanna Bauman from Kansas — got to tell the USDA what they needed to survive. But were policymakers listening? Many of the invited speakers with a political row to hoe seemed to be concerned about one segment of farmers in particular. Farm building in southwest …

Old MacDonald had a farm bill

The good, bad, and ugly in our national five-year agricultural plan

We've all noticed higher grocery bills, but did you know Congress passed a $307 billion farm bill in late May that has a much bigger impact on what you will eat for dinner tonight than what you chose to place in the grocery cart? The farm bill has a hand in all that happens before the swallow. The bag of Tyson chicken wings (grain subsidies), gallon of Horizon Organic milk (forward contracting), and pound of Fuji apples (country of origin labeling) are all regulated in some fashion by this policy determining how our food is raised and who profits. But does the massive legislation support family farmers? Increase food access in urban food deserts? Or feed the 40 million poor and hungry in the United States? Yes and no.