Government and International Relations Honors Papers

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MaryAnne Borelli

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The farm-to-school policy network has mobilized at the local, state, and national level since its inception in 1996. To continually advance its policy priorities, the young network has relied on tightly coordinated relationships at the state and local level. At the same time, it has responded to partisan change at the national level during the 2008 and 2016 elections. Following the 2008 election, the farm-to-school policy network forged relationships with political allies in the Obama White House, and after the 2016 election, the policy network has turned to political allies in the legislative branch to advance national policy goals.

This network is decentralized, adapting to the federal political system and providing the space for localities and states to create unique farm-to-school policies targeted to suit their populations for instance the beef-to-school program in Montana or Oregon’s locally sourced dairy products policies. These innovations exist slightly outside the mainstream farm-to-school policy network goals, but remain a critical part of the policy network. This thesis critically examines the policy network’s rhetoric, political opportunity structure, coordinated relationships, and political strategy throughout its history. Drawing heavily on political science, but strongly interdisciplinary, this thesis provides a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics that have driven the farm-to-school policy network’s growth and institutionalization as a public policy actor.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.