Policy Survey Report

In the fall of 2018, NESAWG administered a survey to see how our network engages with policy. This information will inform our policy work going forward in terms of issues we devote staff attention to and mechanisms we use to support and inform our network, so we wanted to share the results. Thanks to everyone who took the time to participate in the survey.

Survey Highlights:

  • 122 people responded from 10 Northeast States.
  • Local and Regional Food and Food Access and Food Security were the top two Farm Bill issues, followed by issues that affect farmers of color, beginning farmers, and conservation.
  • Outside of the Farm Bill, the respondents viewed Climate Change, Child Nutrition Authorization, and Immigration Justice as their three most important issues.
  • Respondents thought that NESAWG could be helpful to their policy work by keeping them informed through e-mail and action alerts, connecting them to others in the region working on similar issues, and building their skills through trainings and webinars.

Who Took The Survey?

Our policy survey was completed by 122 people from across the Northeast region. 72 answered on behalf of an organization, and the remaining 50 answered as individuals.

Question: How would you describe your role or sector in food systems work? Check all that apply. Note: categories will add up to more than the total number of respondents because people may identify with more than one role.

"We work on engaging the most impacted to become the most activated in policy/advocacy efforts”

The issues

We asked respondents to rate their most important issues both within the Farm Bill and beyond. Since the 2018 Farm Bill was just passed, we have a chance to focus on other policy, while of course keeping an eye on the Farm Bill implementation process.

Question: How important are the following Farm Bill issues to you? Please select your top five issues. “Local and Regional food’ includes subcategories “Programs promoting consumer access to local foods (Community Food Projects, Farmers Market Nutrition Program, etc.)” and “ Programs that connect farmers to marketing opportunities (Farm to Institution, Local Food Promotion Program, etc.)“. “Food Access and food security” includes “SNAP”.

Total number of people who ranked each issue as “important” or “very important” to them or their organization.

How NESAWG can be an effective policy resource

Here’s how you would like us to be a resource for your policy work:

“We would like more opportunities to get together with other regions to work on very specific action areas in a format that provides a national context, examples of what single states have done / can do, and working sessions to look at regional collaboration.”

Total number of respondents who indicated that each action would be helpful to them or their organization.

We also learned that more people in our network engage in state and local policy than federal,  which is an insight to dig into deeper into considering NESAWG has a federal policy focus.

"Our policy work is collaborative through partnerships with other organizations who are also well-connected in local policy.  Through relationships developed at NESAWG's annual conference we have been able to develop relationships with state and national partners as well. The question is always capacity though... do we have capacity to engage in state and national policy in a meaningful way?  We currently do not have funding for enough staff time to do so, so our current policy work is strategic building on local efforts that we've been involved in.”