Congress is Drafting the 2013 Farm Bill

      Posted On: May 9, 2013

The House and Senate are set to start marking up drafts of the farm bill next week! An extremely broad range of issues are covered within the bill—crop subsidies, agricultural research, SNAP, farm exports, rural economic development, rural aid and biofuel development—and the Farmers Market Coalition it dedicated to ensuring the best interests of farmers markets and community farmers are included.

Locally marketed foods accounted for an estimated $4.8 billion in gross sales in 2008, and the number of farmers markets nationwide jumped 17 percent from 2010 to 2011.  Despite these growing opportunities, producers face significant infrastructure, marketing, and information barriers that limit growth in local agriculture. The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 (LFFJA) seeks to address these barriers through the federal farm bill by improving the programs that support local and regional farmers and food systems. The LFFJA was introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and is currently co-sponsored by 71 other legislators who seek to incorporate provisions from LLFJA into the 2013 Farm Bill.

What will LFFJA do for farmers markets?

  • Increase funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program to $20 M annually to create a Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program that will also include direct and short-supply chain local food projects.
  • Amend the language of the Specialty Crop Block Grants to focus on projects that increase consumption and availability of local/regional specialty crops, the profitability and ecological sustainability of specialty crops, and the affordability of specialty crops for low-income consumers.
  • Address the need for electronic benefit transfer capabilities at farmers markets and encourage SNAP Education and Outreach programs to use farmers markets and other direct marketing outlets as a venue for nutrition education.
  • Increase funding for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) to $25M per year and extend authorization through 2018.
  • Include serving young, beginning, and small farmers and local and regional food production as an objective of the Farm Credit System. Require that each Farm Credit System institution implement a program for furnishing credit to farmers and ranchers producing for local and regional markets.

The Local Food Farms and Jobs Act provides secure farm bill funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, create rural jobs, and invest in the local food and agriculture economy.  FMC urges Congress to support this comprehensive bill that will improve upon existing farm programs to effectively foster local and regional food system development. Have your legislators co-sponsored the LFFJA? If so, give them a call and thank them! If not, please encourage them to join the other 71 supporters in Congress! And stay tuned to FMC for upcoming farm bill action alerts.

Find your legislators’ contact info here!