Mike Lufkin, a local food economy manager, will be speaking at the Inaugural Seattle Food Tank Summit, “Growing Food Policy,” which will be held in partnership with the Environmental Working Group, Food Action, Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB), the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Seattle University’s Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability on March 17, 2018.
Responsible for overseeing the King’s County’s Local Food Initiative, Mike Lufkin is a local food economy manager working to improve the local food system of Seattle and increase access to healthy and affordable food. Mike works closely with food and farm stakeholders across the county to implement projects and programs. He is also an attorney with extensive experience in assisting public and private sector clients solve complex natural resource and land use challenges and has extensive experience in project management and public policy development. Mike served as an adjunct professor in the University of Washington School of Law and received his JD from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Food Tank spoke with Mike Lufkin about his work with local Pacific Northwest farmers and his stance on policy issues relating to the 2018 Farm Bill.
Food Tank (FT): What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?
Mike Lufkin: Witnessing the loss of small farms due to development pressure, rising land prices in western Michigan, and working in Sub-Saharan Africa on land tenure inspired me to get involved in the local farm and food movement.
FT: How are you helping to build a better food system?
ML: I have the pleasure of coordinating King County’s Local Food Initiative. I get to work with farmers, non-profit organizations, consumers, and governments on projects and programs that grow our local food economy in the Pacific Northwest. Together with better farmer training and local food system infrastructure restoration, we are working to create a more sustainable and equitable food system.
FT: What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?
ML: The most pressing issue is rising farmland prices and the inability of young farmers to access land.
FT: What innovations in food and agriculture are you most excited about?
ML: I am most excited about the growing awareness and value placed on local products by consumers.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
ML: Every person should commit to spending 10 percent of their food dollars on local products.
FT: How can we make food policy more relevant to eaters so that the politicians representing them feel a mandate to act?
ML: Although there are tons of organizations working on food system issues, political advocacy and coordination between organizations is lacking.
FT: What policy areas or ideas would you like to see an increased focus on as the 2018 Farm Bill negotiations kick off?
ML: In the 2018 Farm Bill, I would like to see increased support and funding for small producers and local food systems through programs like the Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, and Value Added Producer Grants Program. I would also like to see a renewed focus on the development of food system infrastructure in terms of processing facilities, cold storage, and aggregation.