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midwest 2.0spring 2010

Midwest 2.0Midwest 2.0 | Spring 2010 Editor in ChiefMonika Johnson, Michigan State University

Regional Editorial Board

Ashley Herzovi, Michigan State University Michael Tracht, University of Chicago Audrey Henkels, University of Chicago Alex Buckholtz, University of Wisconsin

National Editorial Board

Chair: Gracye Cheng, Harvard University Frank Lin, University of Chicago Carolina Delgado, Georgetown University Sheri Holt, Georgetown University Zachary De La Rosa, University of North Carolina Sid Salvi, Amherst College

Policy Strategists

Lucas Puente, Economic Development, University of Georgia David Weinberger, Energy and the Environment, CUNY Hunter College Matthew Fischler, Equal Justice, Northwestern University

National Network CoordinatorTarsi Dunlop This journal is funded with the generous support of Michigan State University, James Madison College Michigan State University, Undergraduate Education Office of the Provost Michigan State University, Honors CollegeCopyright March 2010, the Roosevelt Institute. All rights reserved. The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network | 2100 M St NW | Washington, DC 20037 www.rooseveltcampusnetwork.org The views and opinions expressed in this volume are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Roosevelt Institute, its officers, or its directors.

In This IssueWholesome Heartland: Local Farm Certification Process for Missouri and the Midwest Adina Appelbaum, Stephanie Chalifour, Daniel Goldfarb, Diana Hsu, Srishti Mirchandani, & Morgan Ryan Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: The Campground Solution Weston R. Laabs Localizing School Lunches to Nourish Students Andrew C. Hobaugh Integrating Environmental Education into Middle School Curricula Alixandra Hallen Green Success: A Collaboration Between Michigan State University and Lansing Public Schools Gabriel A. Buzinski Bringing Green Collar Jobs to the Midwest Valerie Bieberich Green-Based Career Training Cory Connolly Youth Unemployment Act: Creating Stable Job Opportunities through Co-Ops Vijay Singh Building Municipal Fiber-to-Home Internet Connections Kevin Atherton A Bicycle-Based Mass Transit System Theresa Gasinski Ending Corn Subsidies: A Small Step toward Sustainable Farm Policy Gareth Collins 3

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Wholesome Heartland:

Local Farm Certification Process for Missouri And the MidwestAdina Appelbaum, Stephanie Chalifour, Daniel Goldfarb, Diana Hsu, Srishti Mirchandani, & Morgan RyanWashington University in St. Louis

We propose a new Midwestern agricultural certification process that promotes the regional economy, encourages healthy consumption, and decreases environmental impacts. Key Points On average, American farmers only receive 20 cents of every dollar spent, the rest going for transportation, processing, packaging, refrigerating, and marketing. Eating locally can increase revenue share for farmers.1 The demand for healthy alternatives exists; the organic food industry has grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $20 billion in 2007.2 Food, on average, travels 1500 miles; decreased travel would mean decreased environmental impact.3 Local consumption can create twice as many jobs.4 Unlike USDA Organic, the Wholesome Heartland certification process focuses on stimulating specifically Midwestern agricultural production and consumption. Background As the nations breadbasket, the Midwest has historically depended on agriculture as a pillar of its economy. The farming industry continues to offer great opportunities for job growth, revitalization, and the creation of new markets in the Midwest. Through the development of the Wholesome Heartland certification process, the Midwestern region could become an innovative leader in the promotion of local consumption. Eating locally would prove beneficial for the Midwestern economy; a study conducted in Iowa estimated that a 25% increase in local consumption would create 4,000 new jobs in the state.5 Increased local consumption would not only benefit farming related industries, but also benefit consumers through healthier food alternatives and decreased environmental impact. We propose a new certification process for regional agricultural products that is specifically tailored to Midwestern farming, as the current USDA Organic label does not adequately address the needs of Midwestern farmers. The National Organic Programs goal is to standardize the quality of USDA Organic production and products. However, while the Organic label has fostered huge growth in demand for organic products, it has failed to ensure strict standards or promote local consumption. By localizing the certification process, standards will be less at the behest of national corporations and better tailored to the realities and methods of Midwestern farming. A firm precedent has been established with New Jerseys Jersey Fresh and Arizonas Arizona Grown certification processes. The goal of both of these programs is to make it easier for consumers, retailers, and restaurants to identify and buy local foods.6 Jersey Fresh has been successful since the 1980s, enabling consumers to identify and support their local farmers. Beginning as a Missouri state policy, the Wholesome Heartland certification process could grow to include all Midwestern farmers if other states adopt corresponding policies. The state initiative would create a panel to establish farming standards that would act as guidelines for private certifiers, as well as create private certification jobs.7 To receive certification, farms would need to meet two requirements: locality and elevated standards of health and sustainability. The new certification process would work towards three goals: to improve the regions agricultural econo3

my, to reduce the negative environmental impacts of food production, and to increase Missouri consumer health consciousness. Analysis The Wholesome Heartland certification standards would first be set by a Missouri state commission that prioritizes the unique characteristics of Missouri farms. Most importantly, our label would provide a cheaper and simpler organic label alternative for the small farms in Missouri. Currently only 242 out of the over 69,400 Missouri small farms are certified Organic because of high barriers to entry. The small Missouri farms that currently face high costs and less revenue would be made more competitive against larger-scale farms, with hopefully at least half of the 69,400 small farms under 169 acres obtaining the Wholesome Heartland certification.8 Following the establishment of the Wholesome Heartland Certification in Missouri, other states could follow suit by establishing their own certification standards or adopting Missouris, adding to the breadth and success of the label. This new certification would greatly benefit the local Midwestern economy. A study conducted in southern Minnesota showed that only 2% of food in the region is purchased locally. If that number increased to 20%, the change in shipping costs alone would move the regions farming industry from losses to profits. In the same study it was shown that half of farmers expenses in the region are from payments leaving the Midwest.9 In this way, we can decrease the cost of storage and shipping while increasing consumer demand through marketing of the new labeling standard. Organic foods saw an 18% annual increase in sales after the instatement of the USDA Organic labeling system. If the new label helps local food become more desirable and easily identifiable for consumers as the USDA Organic label did for Organic foods, then areas in the Midwest, like Minnesota, would see farming go from an unprofitable to a profitable industry in just one year.10 The success of the certification process depends upon the demand for local food. There is evidence nationwide of a growing demand for local food; when the California dairy industry began the Real California Milk certification in 2007, 89% of people polled stated an intent to purchase milk from in-state.11 Additionally, a study by Shaffer (2002) found that 86% of American consumers surveyed supported mandatory state local labels.12 The consumer would have the option to buy local foods that meet stringent health and sustainability standards, ensuring their ability to make decisions that help local farmers, the environment, and their own health. The benefits greatly outweigh the costs of this new certification process. The costs can be kept to a minimum because, while the creation of a certification board is necessary, the actual certification process will be handled by private certifiers. Under forces of competition, private certifiers will keep costs of certification to a minimum. Since this process is intended to be less expensive and more accessible to farmers than the current USDA Organic certification, state subsidization of certification costs may be required for widespread success. If prices rose above the level that farmers could easily pay, subsidization of the process would cost a maximum of $100 per certification inspection, with that number based on the current cost of Organic certification. With around 100,000 Missouri farms, this would cost a maximum of 5 million dollars, a paltry figure compared to the potential 4,000 new jobs and resulting tax revenues. The only other costs of the new certification process would be the costs of advertisement. Raising consumer awareness about the new certification and its advantages would be vital to the success of Wholesome Heartland. As the policy aims primarily to increase demand for local agricultural products, consumers perceived value of the brand is essential. A strategic consumer awareness advertising campaign could ensure this. Aside from the non-quantifiable benefits, such as reduced environmental impact of farming and