Mark Udall marked the Peak to Plains Alliance's Local Food Week today by noting the importance of agricultural programs in the 2012 Farm Bill. Udall also encouraged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the 2012 Farm Bill that includes critical agriculture and nutrition provisions that support local food production and good nutrition.
"Supporting Colorado's agricultural economy is critical to our economic recovery. Unfortunately, the Farm Bill, which passed the U.S. Senate and the House Agriculture Committee with broad bipartisan support, is languishing in the U.S. House of Representatives," Udall said. "The best tribute the House could pay to Local Food Week and what it embodies would be to pass this critical piece of legislation -- or debate it, at the very least -- before adjourning next week. The American people expect us to lead, not play games with programs farmers, ranchers and foresters need to operate."
The 2012 Farm Bill, which the U.S. Senate passed with broad bipartisan support and saves more than $23 billion, contains provisions that:
Expand Opportunities for Local and Regional Food Systems - The bill strengthens support for farmers' markets and expands authority to support innovative local food enterprises like food hubs. The bill also supports local food projects like urban greenhouses, community gardens, and community-based nutrition education for low-income families that help address community food security and support local economies.
Increase Access and Affordability of Healthy Food Options - In both urban and rural low-income communities, many people lack reasonable access to nutritious and affordable food. The bill authorizes the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to administer loans and grants to improve access to healthy foods in these "food deserts." The bill also expands access to healthy op¬tions with initiatives that give low-income individuals incentives for purchasing fresh fruits and vegeta¬bles and allowing Community Supported Agriculture operations to be authorized to accept SNAP.
Promote Better Health for School Children - The bill continues the successful Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables to elementary school children throughout the school day in school districts with a high proportion of low-income students. It also continues the Department of Defense Fresh Program, which distributes fruits and vegetables to schools and service institutions, and continues to allow the Agricul¬ture Marketing Service to conduct pilots to allow states to source locally grown produce.
Udall has repeatedly pushed the House to take up the 2012 Farm Bill, including a recent letter to House leadership. Udall successfully amended the 2012 Farm Bill earlier this summer to include provisions to strengthen its forestry title and to double the annual funding for bark beetle mitigation.
Udall recently received the "Golden Triangle' Award from the National Farmers' Union and has been selected as recipient of the "Friend of the Farm Bureau' Award for his support of rural Colorado and farmers and ranchers through legislation like the 2012 Farm Bill.