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IEI & the Thriving Food Economy

by John Parker

Readers of the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) digest know that we work hard across sectors, regions and perspectives to find solutions to the state’s emerging critical policy issues, resulting in a more vibrant and prosperous future for all.

IEI’s sponsorship of Farm Aid 2022 kicks off exploration of a multi-year initiative in support of the state’s number one sector—agriculture. According to a 2021 report by NC State University, agriculture and agribusiness account for one-sixth of North Carolina’s income and employment. More than 789,000 people are employed in agriculture and agribusiness in the state.

It was good to connect with our existing friends—RAFI-USA, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, our “hometown” neighbors, NC State Cooperative Extension—and make some new ones, including Regenerate America (it’s about soil!) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Farm Aid’s “HomeGrown Village.”  There was a Homegrown Skills tent in the village.

A chalk board displaying a list of activities taking place at a "skills tent"

In addition there was a FarmYard Stage where important issues were discussed.

A chalk board displaying a list of activities taking place at a "farm yard stage"

Farm Aid even created a space to register people to vote and creatively share “How Do You Feel About Climate Change?”, “What Are You Grateful For?”, “What Gives You Hope?” and “What Action Will You Take?”.

A chalk board displaying handwritten answers to "how do you feel about climate change"
A chalk board displaying handwritten answers to "what are you grateful for"
A chalk board displaying handwritten answers to "what gives you hope" and "what action will you take"

We encourage folks to attend Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s upcoming conference in November. Plus, sign up for RAFI’s policy action network and stay in the loop with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, especially in regards to the debates about the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill, which will shape federal policy on agriculture for the next five to ten years after passage. Moving forward, we’ll share more about what we’re learning, what our partners and friends are doing, and uplift a variety of voices that can inform us about critical issues and policies impacting farming, agriculture and the good food movement.

By engaging with partners to identify and address specific challenges faced by North Carolina’s agriculture community, we aim to inform effective policies and programs that will strengthen our state’s food economy and address the inequities among farmers, consumers and eaters. Let us know what issues you think are important to strengthening our food economy by filling out our short survey.