Dear Rebecca,

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


Here is a curated list of reads from the CFSA Policy Team
Matt Kneece, South Carolina Policy Coordinator

Article: WIS-TV’s "EZE Farms Offering Young Men in the Midlands Farming Skills and Mentorship​"

When discussing the merits of small-scale, local agriculture, I often point out that farms do more than grow food. Local farms serve as a tangible connection to nature and the cycles of life, a model for small businesses, and a way to foster relationships in the community. Many farms go even further, and EZE Farms in South Carolina is a perfect example.
Last week, WIS-TV featured a profile on the unique youth apprenticeship services provided by EZE Farms. In addition to growing produce, the farm offers a Boy Scout-style youth mentorship program based on their farm, combined with off-site extracurriculars like basketball. The program is designed to provide positive reinforcement for young people in the community, all while using farming as the foundation for lessons. This article does a terrific job of highlighting the many ways in which local farms can change lives beyond agriculture. 
Jared Cates, Community Mobilizer

Article: New York Times’ Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet

This recent opinion video is the first of three in their “We’re Cooked” series about our broken food system and the three chances we each get to help fix it—and save the planet—every day. 

The video paints a grim picture of the devastative impact that large monoculture and phosphorus-based agriculture is having on our planet, squarely placing the blame on national policy that allows a handful of companies to profit drastically from harmful environmental practices. 

The second upcoming video will examine how a few powerful companies dominate the chicken industry, trapping farmers in an exploitative relationship. And their third video will propose an odd dietary modification that might help curb climate change.
Nick Wood, Policy Director

Article: The Counter's "When a Grocery Store Closes Up, & It's Your Last One, You Feel It Immediately"

Millions in the United States, particularly in rural areas and in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, don’t have the ability to purchase fresh produce. The number of grocery stores in the U.S has declined steadily since the 1990s. The crisis has only increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The closures of rural grocery stores have also led to the proliferation of stores like Dollar General, which primarily sell unhealthy, processed food that has drastic health impacts. This article goes in-depth with a rural Illinois community following the closing of the only grocery store in town. While this piece focuses on the Midwest, communities in the Carolinas face many of the same challenges, which is all the more reason to keep advocating for local food systems. 
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