March 2, 2012
In its “Path to the 2012 Farm Bill” series, NSAC gets into the details of the 2012 Farm Bill debate.
On March 1, a briefing on local food policy issues held in the Senate Agriculture Committee room helped educate Senate offices in advance of action on the 2012 Farm Bill. Entitled “Spurring Economic Growth and Expanding Access through Food and Farms: A Briefing on Local Food and Nutrition,” the event highlighted four local organizations that are currently creating jobs, improving community access to healthy foods, and leveraging nutrition programs to increase food security. The briefing was organized by NSAC, Fair Food Network, Community Food Security Coalition, and Feeding America.
Fair Food Network’s Oran Hesterman presents during the briefing
Oran Hesterman of Fair Food Network (an NSAC member group), Caroline Todd of Columbia Farmers Market (a Farmers Market Coalition member), Cheryl Peterson and John Littles of McIntosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development, and Jeff Kleen of Oregon Food Bank spoke at the briefing. In turn, they addressed innovations that encourage use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on fresh, healthy foods; develop community-based food projects in low-income communities; provide new opportunities for direct and local marketing; and hunger relief work that creates new jobs and economic opportunities.
Caroline Todd, of Columbia Farmers Market, presents at the briefing
The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) plays a key prole in this important work by offering competitive grants for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, farmers markets, and other direct marketing opportunities, all of which can also support low-income consumers through electronic benefit transfers (EBT). The Columbia Farmers Market reported a 77 percent increase in SNAP usage as a result of their FMPP grant, which funded marketing and outreach to low-income consumers. This increase expanded access to healthy foods for consumers and boosted farmer income in the community.
The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, which is currently pending in Congress and is aimed at inclusion in the 2012 Farm Bill, would fund a host of programs that ensure our federal agriculture policy meets the needs of local and regional producers. This includes a provision to renew and expand funding for FMPP as well as to expand the Community Food Project grant program.