Framing Food Policy: The Case of Raw Milk

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19 Scopus citations


Policies governing the sale of raw milk—making the sales of raw milk more permissive—are gaining traction on the legislative agendas of dozens of states. This paper examines one contributor to this movement on the policy agenda: the role of competitive framing. By combining theoretical approaches from policy studies and political psychology theories of competitive framing, we offer evidence supporting the recent relative success of raw milk activists in several state legislatures. Using an Internet survey-based experiment with a sample size of 1,630 respondents from seven Midwestern states, we show that a frame emphasizing consumer choice and food freedom is more effective than the frame that dominates among the policy establishment, that emphasizing public health risks. This is true in both one-sided and competitive framing contexts. We further show that those previously aware of this issue were less influenced by the public health frame than those naïve to the issue. Our results suggest that the pro-raw milk movement may be making strides on the state policy agenda because their frames are more resonant among the public. We also highlight the advantages gained from considering psychological and policy processes simultaneously to understand policy change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-383
Number of pages25
JournalPolicy Studies Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2017


  • competitive framing
  • food policy
  • raw milk
  • social movements


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