Q & A with food and agriculture policy veteran Kathy Ozer

(Note: I originally posted this on DC Food for All)

Anyone who thinks living in D.C. precludes any chance to influence national food policy should meet Kathy Ozer. Since 1987, this Adams Morgan resident has been representing farmers and fighting to fix what she calls a “broken” national food system. She currently serves as the executive director of the National Family Farm Coalition on Capitol Hill. Last month, she keynoted the Future Harvest conference, the annual gathering of the Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. This year’s gathering also included a special presentation by Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan on the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.

As a long-time resident of D.C., Ozer also strongly supports local initiatives to make healthy food accessible to low-income consumers in the District, and bringing fresh, nutritious food to the city’s school cafeterias. I recently spoke to Ozer about what she does, and how anyone—with or without a vote in Congress—can help put the pieces together.

How did you get involved in farmers’ rights?

I came to the coalition from the perspective of how important it was to have different voices represented on Capitol Hill, but I definitely did not grow up on a farm. I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. In the 1970s and the 80s, my family was supportive of the Bethesda Food Co-op. So since then, I’ve always had a real interest in food access issues and where food fit into some of the broader sets of issues that we all confront. Continue reading