Urgent Action Needed: Support These Three Essential Bills to Fortify our Local Farms, Markets and Food System
Posted On: July 26, 2023
This week offers a critical opportunity for you to advocate for a strong local food system, and we’re calling on you to help make it happen.
It’s time to advocate for a robust local food system that supports our farmers, markets, and communities. Congress is working on the 2023 Farm Bill, a critical opportunity to prioritize local food systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of investing in regional food systems to sustain jobs and ensure our communities have access to fresh food during times of crisis. FMC has been hard at work to update our priorities based on the needs of farmers and farmers’ markets and then to have them included in the Farm Bill. Thanks to our policy team and members’ efforts, FMC has had some big wins.
We’re calling on you to support three essential bills to strengthen our local food systems: the Local Farms and Food Act, the Farmers Market and Food Bank Revitalization Act, and the Enabling Farmers to Benefit from Processing Nutrition Programs Act of 2023.
Key Bills we are supporting
The Local Farms and Food Act (S.1205, H.R. 2723) will make it easier for smaller-scale organizations and producers to access funding from federal programs to invest in their communities and local food systems. Specifically, the act:
- increases funding for the Local Agricultural Market Program grants, including the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP)
- creates a streamlined “Turn-Key” grant category with a simplified application process for FMPP grants under $100,000
- supports the ongoing success of nutrition incentive programs and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
- includes a proposed reduction in match for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program and Value Added Producer Grants. However, there is no reduction in match for FMPP. This issue is an essential priority for FMC, and we have been working hard to make the case for reducing matching requirements* for FMPP grants. This is where we could use your help.
*The grant match requirements were a holdover from the 2018 Farm Bill. FMC believes that specific changes are necessary to make the grant system more accessible and equitable for all. In our sign-on letter addressing this point, nearly 300 fellow signatories across 42 states joined us in asking that match requirements be reduced from 25% to 10% for the existing grant categories, and that the matching funds’ requirement be removed for the Turn-Key Grants proposed as part of the Local Farms and Food Act. Reducing barriers to accessing these grant programs can create a more inclusive and equitable local food system that benefits all stakeholders.
The Farmers Market and Food Bank Revitalization Act (H.R.2378)will invest in local and regional food systems, benefiting local farmers and local eaters. It increases funding for programs like the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) and provides higher benefits for the Women, Infants, and Children Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). This means more money will be spent with local farmers. The act will also help create new markets and support existing ones by offering resources for updating and establishing farmers’ markets through an infrastructure funding program. Furthermore, the bill will establish a pilot program for food banks to source produce from local growers.
The Enabling Farmers to Benefit from Processing Nutrition Programs Act will cut red tape and streamline applications from farmers seeking to participate as authorized vendors under several nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (FMNP). The Act will also improve access to appropriate benefit processing equipment for farmers and farmers’ markets.
These three bills have come about as a direct result of FMC’s advocacy efforts based on the needs of our members and represent many years of collective effort. Now we need your help to make them even better. Will you take action with us today to support the Local Farms and Food Act, the Farmers Market and Food Bank Revitalization Act, and the Enabling Farmers to Benefit from Processing Nutrition Programs Act of 2023?
- Call your Member of Congress!
a.) Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121
b.) Leave a message for your Members of Congress like this:“Hi, my name is ____, and I’m a constituent and a ____ [farmer, parent, concerned citizen, etc.]. As your constituent, I care about strengthening our local food systems! [The Local Farms and Food Act, the Farmers Market and Food Bank Revitalization Act, and the Enabling Farmers to Benefit from Processing Nutrition Act of 2023] will support the expansion and growth of local and regional food systems nationwide. It invests in food-insecure communities to promote local economies and ensure accessible, affordable access to fresh, locally-grown produce. Will you consider cosponsoring these acts today?Additionally, I urge you to support the reduction of federal matching requirements for Federal grants for small farmers and farmers markets. Thank you for your consideration.
c.) Reply to this email to let us know you called and how it went!
- No time to make a call? You can still send a quick email to your legislators using the above script! Find your federal legislators here.
Thank you for taking action on this crucial issue. We can’t do this without you!