The Senate today passed major legislation that contained a number of provisions that originated in a bill written by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod Brown designed to reform the nation's farm policy. The bill--a reauthorization of the Farm Bill--included provisions that promote and expand local agriculture.
"Local farming is good for the economy because the money consumers spend on food ends up staying in the community," Pingree said. "And local food is also good for families who can put healthy, high quality food on the table."
Pingree first introduced the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act in the House in 2011 with Senator Sherrod Brown. Since then, many of the proposals in her bill were adopted as part of the Farm Bill, the 5-year funding bill that determines national farm policy.
For more information on Pingree's local food bill, go to: pingree.house.gov/localfood.
Next week, the House is expected to take up the House version of the 5-year FarmBill. During consideration, Pingree expects to offer additional local food and farming provisions to the bill.
Some of the local food reforms contained in the Senate version of the Farm Bill passed today include:
· Increasing access to local food for SNAP (food stamp) recipients, including a program to provide electronic benefit card readers to farmers markets at no cost; a double-voucher program to increase the buying power at direct-to-consumer outlets; and a provision to make it easier for SNAP dollars to be spent on Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs).
· Diversified crop insurance, which will insure a whole diversified farm, not just insurance per row crop.
· Organic crop insurance, which treats organic farmers more equitably and will give organic farmers a fair price for their food.
· Value-added producer grants, which will significantly assist in re-establishing food system infrastructure in ruralareas. The grants will help target and strengthen the profitability and competitiveness of family farms.
· Establish a Food Corps program for community service members to connect schools to local farms and engage K-12 students in experiential learning about agriculture, gardening, nutrition, cooking, andwhere their food comes from.