Big government and big food vs. food trucks, foodies, and farmers markets
Culture of Competition
About This Event


Event Summary

Whether you are a farmer, food truck owner, or just a food lover, government regulations in the food industry can prevent you from making your own decisions. At an AEI event on Thursday, Culture of Competition scholar Timothy P. Carney moderated a discussion among a panel of legal experts on food policy.

Doug Povich, founding member of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington and owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound food truck, discussed the rules city officials have created to crowd him and other food truck owners out the market. However, he drew a sharp distinction between regulations that ensure health and safety and those that simply prevent new competitors from challenging established restaurants.

Emily Broad Leib, director of Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic, highlighted the cronyism present in organic food industry regulation. Big corporations buy influence in Washington to dominate the market, and small farmers who do not have legal knowledge or funds to pay for lobbyists cannot meet the regulatory burdens placed on them.

Baylen J. Linnekin, executive director of Keep Food Legal, examined the heavy hand of big farm lobbyists in regulation and offered recommendations to encourage market competition that benefits consumers.

--Annika Boone

Event Description

If you like your food local, organic, or from a truck, government regulation might be your biggest obstacle. American restaurants lobby to choke off food trucks, and federal regulation of food safety leads to more consolidation in the industry. Moreover, farmers markets struggle to survive under the heavy hand of government.

What if food safety regulation is not about limiting the germs in our dinner, but is rather about limiting competition in America’s food industry? What if federal and local rules actually protect incumbent businesses instead of consumers?

Join us for a panel discussion about food competition, regulation, and safety catered by the BBQ Bus food truck.

This event is part of AEI’s Culture of Competition Project.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


11:45 AM
Registration and Lunch

12:00 PM
Emily Broad Leib, Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation
Baylen J. Linnekin, Keep Food Legal
Doug Povich, Food Truck Association and Red Hook Lobster Pound
Timothy P. Carney, AEI

1:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Lori Sanders at [email protected], 202.862.7172.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact Media Services at [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Emily Broad Leib is associate director of the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and director of the center's Food Law and Policy Clinic. The Food Law and Policy Clinic works with nonprofit organizations and government agencies to recommend food laws and policies aimed at increasing access to healthy foods, reducing obesity and diet-related disease, and assisting small farmers and producers in participating in food markets. Broad Leib teaches in the area of food law and policy and supervises Harvard Law students engaged in these projects. Before her current position, Broad Leib served as the joint Harvard Law School/Mississippi State University Delta Fellow and worked with community members and outside partners to forge programmatic and policy responses aimed at improving public health and economic opportunity in the Mississippi Delta, with a focus on the food system.

Timothy P. Carney helps direct AEI’s Culture of Competition Project, which examines barriers to competition in all areas of American life, from the economy to the world of ideas. Carney has over a decade of experience as a journalist covering the intersection of politics and economics. His work at AEI focuses on how to reinvigorate a competitive culture in America in which all can reap the benefits of a fair economy. Carney is the author of two books: “The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money” (John Wiley & Sons, 2006) and “Obamanomics: How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses” (Regnery Publishing, 2009).

Baylen J. Linnekin is the founder and executive director of Keep Food Legal, a Washington, DC-based nonpartisan 501(c)(4) grassroots nonprofit membership organization that advocates in favor of food freedom, or the right of every American to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat, and drink the foods of this or her own choosing. Linnekin also serves as executive director of the new Keep Food Legal Foundation, a Keep Food Legal sister organization that has filed the relevant paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service to begin operating as a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) public charity. Additionally, Linnekin is a licensed Maryland attorney, Reason magazine food-policy columnist, and adjunct faculty member at American University. Linnekin’s writing on food and law has appeared in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Chapman University Law Review, Northeastern University Law Journal, and elsewhere, and he has offered expert commentary on a variety of food and law issues on BBC Radio, Fox Business Channel, al Jazeera, the Dennis Miller Show, and the Laura Ingraham Show, among others.

Douglas Povich is counsel at the Washington, DC, branch of the global law firm Squire Sanders, where he practices communications and technology law. In 2010, Doug started the Red Hook Lobster Pound food truck, which serves fresh Maine lobster rolls throughout the DC metropolitan area. Doug became a founding member of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, serves as chairman of its board of directors, and helps to persuade area governments to adopt reasonable mobile vending regulations. A frequent speaker on food truck regulations, trends, and social media, Povich hopes that his law career will someday be eclipsed by his life as a burgeoning food truck entrepreneur.

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