The Farm Bill: Local Farms, Food, & Jobs ActTue 24 Jan 2012
Story by The Food Revolution Team
Local Farms, Food, And Jobs: Setting the Stage for the Farm Bill
2012 will be the year of the Food & Farm Bill, and it means big opportunity tomake fresh, local, food more accessible to all families and in all of our schools.
As we’ve explained, the “Farm Bill” is the most important law determining what America eats. We say it should be called 'The Food and Farm, Bill' because its many sections dictate how we grow food, how we support farmers, how we sell food, and what food assistance programs are available to all Americans.
The heated discussion about the Food & Farm Bill happens only once every five years. Currently it looks like the conversation will really get cooking around March. In the meantime, members of Congress, along with food advocates, are putting down 'markers' for the types of reforms necessary to create a food system that match the values of the Food Revolution. So the time to start paying attention is now!
“The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act” is one proposal on the table that’s meant to influence the conversation. It’s a package of reforms that would strengthen local and regional food systems from farm to table.
These kind of changes would help eaters (that’s all of us!) by improving access to healthy food and this particular proposal would help farmers and ranchers meet the growing demand for local and regional food by helping them with production, processing, marketing, and distribution.
Among other things the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act would...
• Reduce blockages to institutional purchasing, better linking farms directly with schools, hospitals, and other institutions;
• Create a “local food credit” program so schools can use up to 15% of their federal commodity dollars (under the National School Lunch Program) to buy local food, lowering barriers that make it harder for schools to access local food.
• Invest in critical infrastructure that would enable farmers and foodbusinesses to aggregate, store and distribute their products;
• Increase food safety training and technical assistance resources for small and mid-sized farming operations as well as small slaughterhouses.
Plus, it would do other things we love: bolster marketing and promotion for farmers markets; grow the program that helps Seniors access farmers markets; improve access for SNAP (Food Stamp) participants to farmers markets and CSAs; and expand nutrition education.
These proposals bring fresh, local food closer to kid’s mouths, in the process helping farmers, schools, and families. In coming weeks, expect to hear more about how we can support The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, and get our Food & Farm Bill on the right track for 2012.
The Food Revolution Team
To learn more:
Read this article from the National Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture.
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