Merging Opposing Viewpoints: Analysis of the Development of a Statewide Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council in a Traditional Agricultural State
AbstractFood policy councils (FPCs) are a useful way for interested groups to work together to create mutually beneficial change within the food system. Often formed through grassroots organizing or commissioned by governmental entities, FPCs have been successful at tackling challenges within food systems by creating forums to address issues whose roots ordinarily are in disparate parts of these systems. Little peer-reviewed research exists, however, examining the formation of state-level FPCs, particularly among states known for their conventional production practices. In this case study, we explored the process of forming a statewide FPC in North Carolina from 2007 to 2009. The objectives were to (a) qualitatively examine the two-year process of forming a statewide FPC in a traditional agriculture state, and (b) identify the factors that led to its formation. To do so, we developed an in-depth interview guide for interviewing eight individuals, including government stakeholders, conventional agricultural producers, sustainable agricultural producers, philanthropists, and legal representatives. We used qualitative analysis methods to analyze the transcripts, drawing on John Kingdon’s agenda-setting and policy-formation theory to guide analysis. Results indicated that four factors drove the formation of the North Carolina state-level FPC: (1) stakeholder involvement, (2) diverse partnerships, (3) stakeholder ability to compromise, and (4) a conducive political setting. While the small sample size prevents us from causally interpreting our results and generalizing our findings, this preliminary research may provide insight for other states, especially those with a predominately traditional agriculture system, that are interested in forming state-level FPCs.
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