Welcome to the February 2022 edition of The Buzz. I write this intro with a heavy heart as March 4 will be my last day at CFSA. While the tremendous efforts of the CFSA Policy Team will carry on, as will this newsletter, I accepted a job as the organizing director for a rural-focused non-profit called Down Home North Carolina. The great news is that I won’t be leaving the Carolinas and will be able to continue partnering with CFSA and all of you! Think of this as more of a “see you soon in a different capacity” than a goodbye. Words can’t express how thankful I am to CFSA and all of you for such an incredible experience.
I can’t believe that it has only been two years – so much has happened. When I started at CFSA in February 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t yet a reality in the United States. I planned to get to know my colleagues and collaborators, update regulatory guides, and maneuver the murky world of hemp policy. Things turned out a bit differently. I’m just glad I met my coworkers in person because of a fortuitously timed staff retreat (with kickball)!
A scene from the 2020 CFSA staff retreat, where the whole staff played kickball.
The country officially changed a month after I started. The impact on the food system was devastating: supply chains broke, millions of people lost their jobs, food-system workers were exposed to COVID-19, crops rotted in the fields with nowhere to go, and an already existing hunger crisis spiked. Yet, the community came together, and I sincerely believe that we are stronger for it.
During my two years on staff, we worked on so many issues and accomplished so much that I could go on for pages—don’t worry, I won’t. What I will mention is what I’m most proud of: the strong foundation of grassroots power we have built in the past two years. Lawmakers are people, and their job is to represent you. The impact of policies on you matters most when they decide what to support and oppose.
The success of CFSA’s Member Advocacy Program (MAP) and the North Carolina Food System Advocacy Coalition (NCFSAC), which we co-founded with the incredible Emily Sloss at Self-Help Credit Union, have demonstrated that power. Dozens of farmers met with state legislators, and every meeting we had with a congressional office had double-digit attendees!
Me with NC Rep. William Brisson (Republican, Dist. 22), a FarmsSHARE champion, in 2021.
Our accomplishments are even more remarkable because they have been done amid a global pandemic. Together, and only together, we can do great things. I’m looking forward to continuing the adventure. Thanks so much to each of you, especially my policy teammates Matt Kneece and Jared Cates.
Warmly and with much appreciation,
Nick Wood, CFSA Policy Director