CIRS Blog about Rural California

Gabrielle Serra

Gabrielle Serra

Gabrielle Serra will be based in the D.C. office of the Public Health Institute where she will dedicate half her time toward staffing and representing the Coalition at the federal level. She is a leader with extensive experience working on federal food and nutrition policy and political matters. Most recently she worked with Meridian Institute as a senior mediator on food and agriculture policy issues and as nutrition policy advisor to the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee. Gabrielle also worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) where she served in several roles, most notably as a special assistant and policy advisor to the Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, and as a program analyst in the Child Nutrition Division of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. Gabrielle holds an M.S. in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and a B.S. in Health Promotion and Education from Oregon State University.

For anyone who follows what goes on (or what doesn’t) in Washington, it’s a well-known fact that significant pressure on members to act is a major ingredient for the success of any legislation, regardless of merits. Now, with the number of legislative days quickly waning for the 112th Congress, agriculture leaders are facing internal and external pressures that are driving their recent efforts to finalize a bill, which also gives more shape to the potential fates of a 2012 farm bill.

First, agriculture leaders understand the need to act. They have heard the increasingly concerned calls to action from many constituents in the food and agriculture system, and share those concerns. After the 2008 farm bill was allowed to expire on October 1, without current authority, agriculture programs are set to revert back to permanent law which includes a portfolio of outdated and impractical commodity pricing and subsidy programs. The fact that the farm bill was allowed to expire was never because any of the agriculture leaders thought this was in itself a good idea, but rather that it could lead to significant and necessary pressure on congress to act and achieve a bicameral compromise before any real consequences are realized. That time is quickly approaching. With the expired dairy provisions, consumers would start to see a spike in milk prices in the new year. This is important. While only a fraction of legislators include agriculture as a major priority for their legislative decisions, every legislator cares about the price for a gallon of milk just as they care about the prices their constituents are paying for a gallon of gas.

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