The impact of COVID-19 on local government stakeholders' perspectives on local food production

Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, Local Food Production, Local Government, Food Access, Food Policy, Urban Agriculture, Community Development, Public Health

Abstract

Local food production (LFP) can play an impor­tant role in ensuring access to food during supply chain disruptions. Because the drafting, adoption, and implementation of policies regulating LFP is under the purview of local governments in many U.S. states, researchers at University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Exten­sion conducted a study to assess whether COVID-19 affected local government stakeholders’ (LGS) (N=92) perspectives on LFP and the role that LFP can play in responding to public health emergen­cies. LGS who oversee the drafting, adoption, and implementation of LFP policies include staff responsible for code enforcement, sustainability initiatives, and planning, as well as elected and ap­pointed leaders, such as mayors, city and county managers, and city and county commissioners. The survey assessed LGS’ attitudes and knowledge about LFP. The survey also asked LGS about their perceptions and awareness of LFP in their commu­nities, including their perceptions of the benefits of and barriers to LFP and the ways in which LFP producers were using the food they produced. Sur­vey questions also focused specifically on COVID-19 and the role of LFP in public health emergen­cies. In particular, survey questions asked whether LGS perceived a change in their own attitudes, knowledge, and perspectives; whether there had been a change in the LFP activi­ties in their communities following COVID-19; and what they thought the role of LFP was in responding to public health emergencies. Direct comparisons of LGS who responded to a 2019 survey (N=43) were assessed for statistically sig­nificant changes in overall attitudes, knowledge, or perceived benefits of LFP following COVID-19. This study found that LGS have generally positive attitudes and perceptions of benefits of LFP, including its role in public health emergencies, but have limited knowledge about LFP or awareness of barriers to its implementation. The results of this study indicate that LGS understand the potential benefits of LFP in public health emergencies but would benefit from information and training to support the development of policies and programs in their communities.

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Author Biography

Catherine G. Campbell, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Community Food Systems, Family Youth and Commu­nity Sciences Department, Mid-Florida Research and Educa­tion Center

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Published
2021-03-15
How to Cite
Campbell, C. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on local government stakeholders’ perspectives on local food production. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(2), 71–88. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2021.102.035
Section
Papers on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Food System