252279 From field to fitness: Aligning farm policy with health policy to improve community nutrition and public health

Monday, October 31, 2011

Amy Radican-Wald, DrPH Candidate, MPH , School of Health Sciences, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
Background: The Mississippi Delta highlights a paradox of high obesity and food insecurity co-existing in an abundant agricultural environment. Evidence shows improper nutrition increases early morbidity and mortality risks. In 2012, the Federal Farm Bill is scheduled for reauthorization. This research determines whether agricultural policy is aligned with health policy. Methods: Qualitative and qualitative analyses including systematic literature review, stakeholder scan, GIS mapping, and analyses of agriculture census. Results: Health experts emphasize eating more fruits & vegetables while limiting fats & sugars for optimal health & weight maintenance. However, adult eating patterns show significantly (p<.01) opposite trends. Childhood and adult obesity rates rose significantly (p<.01) over the past 30 years. Consumption of heavily subsidized crops has significantly (p<.01) increased over time. Federal polices create incentives for farmers to grow certain crops and penalize some areas of fruit and vegetable production. An increase of 7.4 million additional farm acres is needed to grow enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for Americans to consume amounts recommended. Discussion: Farm policy is not aligned with health policy. Certain policies outlined by the Farm Bill serve to discourage farmers from growing fruits and vegetables, while encouraging production of cheap fats and sweeteners. These and other farm bill policies may contribute to negative food consumption trends, driving high obesity rates. The affected acres could be used for growing fruits and vegetables if restrictions were lifted. Aligning Federal Farm Bill policies with health polices can influence community health upstream, particularly obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes risks.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify provisions of the 2008 federal farm bill out of alignment with nutrition and public health goals. Distinguish how farm bill provisions affect food price, nutrition choice, obesity rates, and overall health of communities. Assess key farm bill policy options for use by health professionals in farm bill reauthorization debates for nutrition and public health improvement.

Keywords: Federal Policy, Public Health Legislation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a public health student, finishing my Doctorate in Public Health, with December 2011 set for graduation. I hold a Master's of Public Health degree as well.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.