Path to the 2012 Farm Bill: Mayors Outline Farm Bill Priorities in Letter to Congressional Agriculture Committee Leaders
March 9th, 2012
On Tuesday, March 6th, the mayors of ten large cities–including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia–sent a letter to the chairs and ranking members of both Congressional Agriculture Committees regarding the 2012 Farm Bill. This letter emphasized the importance of a 2012 reauthorization and outlined the mayors’ priorities which included food security, public health, economic growth, and environmental protection.
The letter alluded to the Local Foods, Farms, and Jobs Act by calling for “inclusion of proposals in pending legislation which advocate for the increased use” of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) in such markets.
Among the mayors’ asks, maintaining funding levels for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) was first. Citing high rates of poverty and food insecurity, the letter noted these programs, as well as ones that increase nutritious food distribution to citizens, as most pertinent.
To improve the nutritional health of their urban populations, the mayors also asked for programs to “encourage the consumption of healthful foods by providing financial incentives to SNAP recipients using their benefits at farmers markets,” a provision of the Local Farms, Foods, and Jobs Act.
One program the letter highlighted was the Farmers Market Promotion Plan, which the mayors stressed could not only achieve a goal of providing nutritious food, but also putting money into the economy: “Farmers need access to markets to thrive, and many urban neighborhoods lack healthy food retail options. Investment in this area will promote economic development.”
Finally, the letter stressed the importance of conservation through the lens of food security. “These programs are critical to the watersheds that serve our residents, and more fundamentally promote the long-term health and food security of all Americans. We encourage you to maintain a strong commitment to conservation, and particularly those programs that support the environmental stewardship of farmers.”
The letter concluded with the mayors’ commitment to work towards these goals in their individual communities and a thanks for Congress’s consideration of their requests and timeline.