WASHINGTON (October 4, 2017)—A new Farm Bill proposal aiming to boost local and regional food systems was introduced in Congress today. Led by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act would invest in programs and infrastructure to better connect farmers to consumers and local buyers, including supermarkets, hospitals and school districts. The bill also supports the development of regional food systems by allowing USDA to enter into regional partnerships with local groups to address the unique needs of a regional food system. The bill would help low-income Americans access healthy food by creating an innovative pilot program that enables healthcare providers to offer “produce prescriptions,” coupons that could be redeemed for fresh produce at farmers markets and grocery stores.
Below is a statement by Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“Currently 15.6 million U.S. households lack adequate access to healthy food. At the same time, many small and midsize farmers struggle to secure a steady demand for their produce. The Local FARMS Act offers solutions to these problems by providing financial incentives and policy support for local food systems that can create jobs, establish reliable revenue streams for farmers and increase access to healthy and affordable food, especially for low-income Americans. Research shows that thriving local food systems can close the nutrition and health gaps along socioeconomic and racial lines while encouraging spending that keeps local dollars invested in local businesses. We look forward to working with Representative Pingree, Senator Brown and others to support our farmers, rural economies and healthy families.”