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The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act

March 8, 2012, 2:03 pm

The following article comes from the Environmental Working Group:

Do you know where the food you eat comes from? Would you prefer to buy it from local farmers? As Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) says, for too long America's food policies haven't done enough to make local food more available.

With the 2012 farm bill debate upon us, Congress has an opportunity to make smart, timely changes to help fix our broken food and farm system by embracing policy reforms outlined in the Local Farms, Food and Jobs bill introduced by Pingree and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

The Pingree-Brown bill includes a comprehensive package of cost-effective policy reforms that aim to make fresh, healthy and affordable food – especially fruits and vegetables – more accessible. It would help farmers and ranchers meet the growing demand for local and regional food -- and boost their incomes. Given our nation's costly epidemic of diet-related diseases, small investments now that increase access to and affordability of healthier food will save us billions of health care dollars down the road.

The Local Farms, Food and Jobs bill would:

-- Help farmers pool and process their products and connect to larger markets.
-- Enable schools to use more of their federal food dollars to buy fresh, local foods.
-- Increase access to credit and crop insurance for organic producers, diversified operations and smaller-scale and beginning farmers.
-- Improve the diets of food stamp recipients and low-income seniors.

Together, these modest but effective investments will yield important, much-needed public health and economic benefits. Farms that sell locally through shorter supply chains often keep a higher portion of retail dollars, increasing profitability and potential for expansion and job creation.

The Environmental Working Groups estimates that just $100 million a year goes to programs that support local food. That's double the 2008 funding level – but compare it to roughly $12 billion in subsidies paid each year to industrial-scale growers of commodity crops – who are enjoying record profits. The Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act could double support for local food to $200 million -- a tiny sum when you consider the potential benefits.

 

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