FMC Supports the 2014 Farm Bill

      Posted On: January 29, 2014

Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) joins fellow local food advocates in reluctantly supporting this bipartisan Farm Bill. There are a number of aspects of the pending bill that hurt SNAP families and very unfortunately, remove the sound language in the core legislation on payment limits for large farmers. Despite these issues, the bill offers substantial support for farmers markets, beginning farmers and ranchers, local food systems, organic agriculture and healthy food access.

FMC welcomes the inclusion of the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Community Food Projects, and the new SNAP Incentives program. These programs represent recognition of the critical importance of a more vibrant local and regional food system, with healthy, affordable food accessible to all.

Farmers markets bring significant health benefits to consumers, while economically supporting our nation’s diversified farmers—and their impact continues to grow dramatically. Farmers markets have doubled in number in the past five years, reaching 8,144 documented markets in 2013. Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) technology for accepting nutrition benefits has advanced, and incentive programs have had a dramatic impact on SNAP redemption rates—growing from $4 million in 2007, to over $20 million in 2013.

The farmers market programs included in this farm bill will offer local food systems across the country the opportunity to increase the depth and scale of their impact—with proven success. Participation in the Farmers Market Promotion Program (the pre-cursor to the FMLFPP) led to a 118% increase in the number of farmers and entrepreneurs selling at the Foothills Farmers Market in California, creating seven new businesses, and increasing the market’s total sales by 240% in just three years. An FMPP grant given to the Michigan Farmers Market Association allowed the organization to increase the number of farmers markets accepting SNAP benefits in Michigan from three in 2006 to 103 in 2012.

FMC believes in the importance of building strong local food systems and supporting SNAP at farmers markets. We are committed to working with USDA to ensure effective implementation of the newly expanded Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program, and the continued success of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Community Food Project Grants.