Farmers Market Coalition Applauds Bipartisan Leadership on Senate Farm Bill
April 30, 2012
(Charlottesville, VA) On Thursday, April 26th, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved a Farm Bill with a 16-5 vote, after a series of difficult choices and bipartisan compromise. The Farmers Market Coalition commends the committee, led by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, (D-Michigan) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts, (R-Kansas), for their efforts to take long-needed steps to reform and improve the nation’s food policy.
The bill is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to save approximately $23 billion over ten years. Now slated for consideration on the Senate floor later this spring, the bill includes the following provisions essential for expanding retail opportunities for small and mid-sized farms while making fresh, nutritious local foods available to communities of all income-levels:
- Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program – Increases funding to $20 million a year and expands the scope of the highly popular Farmers Market Promotion Program to include additional outlets for processing, marketing, and distributing local foods.
- Specialty Crop Block Grants – Increases funding to $70 million per year for five years from the current level of $55 million per year with provisions to allow for collaborative projects among multiple states.
- Innovations in SNAP Technology – Authorizes pilots of mobile applications and online ordering for authorized SNAP retailers and includes provisions to permit SNAP redemption by community supported agriculture.
- Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program – Maintains mandatory funding at $20 million annually to provide assistance to low-income seniors and ensure access to the fresh, local food at farmers markets.
- Hunger-Free Community Incentive Grants – A total of $100 million to create a new grant for incentive programs to increase fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP customers at farmers markets and other healthy food retailers .
- Community Food Projects – Doubles funding from the current level of $5 million per year to $10 million per year to support the development of comprehensive projects to fight food insecurity and increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their food needs.
“These provisions represent welcome advances in Farm Bill policy,” said Stacy Miller, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “I applaud Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Roberts, and their fellow committee members for recognizing the economic, social and nutritional impacts farmers markets have in more than 7,000 communities nationwide. An estimated 50,000 innovative agricultural producers depend on farmers markets as sales outlets, making farmers markets a win-win for rural entrepreneurship and healthy food environments even in high-need neighborhoods.”
Several of the provisions included in the Senate’s bill address the Farmers Market Coalition 2012 Policy Priorities. The House Agriculture Committee is in the process of drafting their own version of the Farm Bill this spring, and the Farmers Market Coalition encourages House leadership to follow the Senate’s lead by supporting these innovative, cost-effective, and far-reaching provisions.
On May 22nd, 1 p.m. Eastern, FMC will host a Farm Bill for Farmers Markets webinar for its members to include a policy expert’s analysis of the current Farm Bill timeline, and offer specific strategies for engagement to ensure that a fair Farm Bill passes in 2012.
About Farmers Market Coalition
The Farmers Market Coalition is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization who seeks to strengthen farmers markets’ capacity to serve farmers, consumers, and communities by providing the rapidly growing movement with information and representation at state and federal levels. FMC is a hub for cross-pollination of best practices and public information. We mobilize peer leadership and grow farmers market capacity to link sustainable farmers with neighbors seeking healthier relationships to food and their community. For more information, tools, and resources please visit www.farmersmarketcoalition.org.