A Look at Farmers Markets and Advocacy for Today and Tomorrow

      Posted On: August 2, 2017

As Congress begins its August recess, we’re taking stock of the advocacy work accomplished so far in 2017, and charting the course for the year to come. Based on direction from the Farmers Market Coalition board of directors, the organization has increased our engagement in the the lead-up to the next Farm Bill. Earlier this year, FMC hired Ben Feldman as Policy Specialist to help build the FMC’s grassroots capacity, ensuring that our members are informed and ready to build relationships with elected officials.  

Today, the farmers market community is strong and well-positioned to advocate on behalf of policies that serve the needs of markets and direct-marketing farmers. With active members in 348 of 535 Senate and Congressional districts, we are uniquely positioned to connect with elected officials from across the country and across the political spectrum.

This power has already yielded one political victory in 2017. This May, the President released a budget proposing the complete elimination of both the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). However, after hearing from members of the farmers market community, the House Committee on Appropriations released its draft budget, preserving these essential programs. The draft budget will be debated and modified significantly over the coming weeks, and we will continue to share data and stories of the programs’ successes to ensure Congress is well-informed throughout the process.

Work has already begun to build a strong base of support for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI), whose funding will be determined by Congress in the next Farm Bill. In June, members of the FMC’s Board met with the staff of both the majority (Republican) House Committee on Agriculture as well as the staff of the minority. These meetings focused on the critical role that these programs play in supporting America’s farmers markets and improving the nation’s health.

Members of FMC staff and Board will reiterate many of these points at Farm Bill listening sessions across the country in the coming months, and continue to meet with members of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees in their Washington offices to ensure that the next Farm Bill reflects the priorities of America’s farmers markets.

FMC has also begun laying the foundations of productive relationships with the new leadership of the USDA. We look forward to assisting Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, his staff, and senior leadership in serving farmers markets in the years to come. FMC will work with USDA to improve, simplify, and expedite the process by which markets are approved to accept SNAP benefits and receive no-cost EBT equipment. In order to accomplish this, FMC is urging USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to revisit the so-called “One Machine Per Location” rule, which is both wasteful of taxpayer dollars, and adds unnecessary paperwork and administration for markets that accept SNAP benefits at multiple market locations.

Interested in joining our efforts? Join FMC as a member, and also be sure to check out our Advocacy Toolkit, where you can learn more about the programs and policies we support. FMC’s strength is in its members markets nationwide, serving their communities, and sharing their successes with public officials at all levels of government.