Reconsidering Federalism and the Farm: Toward including Local, State and Regional Voices in America's Food System

Margaret Sova McCabe, University of New Hampshire - School of Law


The American food system has pressing problems that affect us all. Our food system's structure contributes to public health problems including obesity, food safety, and environmental degradation. This relationship between the food system and pubic health necessitates understanding the federal government's role in the food system. Federalism contributes to alienating people from food production and consumption. This essay argues that to address public health problems successfully, we must question the federal government's pervasive role in the food system and institute greater state and local roles. The essay reviews the rise of federalism in agriculture. It then examines three recent developments that show that a better food system depends on better power sharing among federal, state, and local governments.