After touring the Orchards of Concklin, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced new legislation that would expand markets for farmers and increase the availability of nutritious locally-grown food for consumers. The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act would help New York farmers by addressing production, aggregation, marketing and distribution needs while helping consumers access and afford fresh, nutritious food.
"By investing in local and regional agriculture, we are investing in healthy economies and healthy communities," said Senator Gillibrand, the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly four decades. "I am a proud champion of this legislation which promotes sustainable agriculture, expands access to credit and markets for Hudson Valley and New York farmers, and increases access to local, affordable fresh produce for our communities."
Linda Hill Concklin, Orchards of Concklin and Rockland Farm Bureau President said, "My Dad, Ray Concklin, coined the phrase "Fresher by Miles' for use in our local advertising in the 1980's. Little did we know that the idea would become the revitalization of Rockland County farms in 2013. The belief in the value of "local food systems' is growing strongly now. Local food is fresher, therefore more nutritious, as food undergoes changes post-harvest. Locally grown food is better for our carbon footprint, as you do not use up natural resources transporting food long distances. Consumer support for local farms brings better appreciation and understanding for the work involved in growing our food."
Rockland Legislative Chairwoman Harriet Cornell said, "An-apple-a-day .our mothers knew that fresh fruit and vegetables were good for us. Senator Gillibrand also knows that they are good for our local economy. Having her sit on the Senate Agriculture Committee is a great boon to the Hudson Valley and the state.
New York State Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee said, "As the Chair of the Assembly's Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy I look forward to working with the Senator to promote local food to benefit consumers, producers and food businesses. We in the Assembly have recognized for 30 years that helping families improve their health and nutrition goes hand in hand with helping our farmers and food businesses thrive. The policies I am working on to help beginning farmers and increase local fruits and vegetables in schools will complement the exciting federal initiatives sponsored by Senator Gillibrand. "
John McDowell, President, Rockland Farm Alliance said, "Since its inception, Rockland Farm Alliance (RFA) has been working on all aspects of creating a larger local food system in Rockland County. There are a myriad of reasons why existing ag and small farms can and should flourish in suburban areas: access to healthy, locally grown food, educational opportunities, quality of life, open space and community building to name a few. RFA is proud and honored to work together with our elected representatives in a bipartisan way to preserve and expand our county's rich farming heritage. We are grateful that Senator Gillibrand is a champion for local food, farms, and jobs for the whole country."
"The Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation and its Hudson Valley Food & Beverage Alliance wholeheartedly endorse the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, presented by Sen. Gillibrand," said Laurence P. Gottlieb, president and CEO of Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. "This legislation will be especially helpful for Hudson Valley farmers with production, processing and distribution as well as consumers seeking healthy food through more direct and retail markets. Local food sales in these markets account for $5 billion annually across the U.S. These markets are important to growing jobs and providing new economic development opportunity."
Diana Hess, Chief Communications Officer for Jawonio said, "Jawonio applauds Senator Gillibrand's efforts to recognize the synergy of local farms and healthy foods in Rockland. Our Nyack Studio Arts consumers have also greatly benefitted from serving as community volunteers in learning the importance of respecting the land, basic farming techniques, and building community together by supporting efforts to bring healthy food to people with and without disabilities and special needs."
Local and regional agriculture is a major economic driver in the farm economy. While in 1970 farmers markets were few and far between, there are now almost 8,000 farmers markets throughout the United States. There has been an increase in the number of farmers markets of more than 150 percent since 2000. On the heels of that expansion, we are witnessing the rapid growth of local food markets that have scaled up beyond direct marketing and a renewal of mid-tier regional food system enterprises. According to USDA, local food sales now account for $5 billion annually. Together these markets represent important new job growth and economic development opportunities.
Aimed at helping more farmers sell their products directly to consumers, the legislation would create jobs by assisting farmers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs. It would also ensure that consumers -- particularly low-income families and seniors -- have better access to nutritious, locally-grown food. Direct-to-consumer agriculture sales produce $1.2 billion in annual revenues.
The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act will support job creation by improving federal farm bill programs that support local and regional farm and food systems. This legislation will help farmers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs. This legislation will also assist consumers by improving access to healthy food and direct and retail markets. This legislation will provide more secure funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, and invest in the local agriculture economy.