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New Farm Bill Legislation Proposal would Benefit Local Farmers and Ranchers

October 28, 2011 |

Two members of Congress plan to introduce a bill next week aimed at meeting the needs of farmers and ranchers who are engaged in local and regional agriculture, according to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition announced.

Senator Sherry Brown of Ohio and Representative Chellie Pingree announced they will introduce the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, which is intended for inclusion in the 2012 Farm Bill.

The bill aims to address needs in areas such as production, aggregation, processing, marketing and distribution, the coalition said. The piece of legislation also aims to increase access to healthy food.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition listed a few specific provisions of the bill:

  • “Authorize USDA’s Risk Management Agency to develop a whole farm revenue insurance product for diversified operations, including specialty crops and mixed grain/livestock or dairy operations;
  • Strengthen direct producer-to-consumer and larger scale retail and institutional marketing channels, through the Local Marketing Promotion Program, a renewal and expansion of the current Farmers’ Market Promotion Program;
  • Expand USDA’s rural Business and Industry loan funding set aside for local and regional food enterprises and infrastructure;
  • Create an annual allocation for local and regional specialty crop market development within the Specialty Crop Block Grant program;
  • Renew funding for the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program to assist producers entering into organic production; and
  • Fund farmer food safety training through the National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach and Technical Assistance program, authorized last year as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010.”

The bill’s proposals cut across 10 titles of the Farm Bill, according to the coalition.

The bill is about “healthy local food and a healthy local economy,” Pingree said earlier this week.

“When consumers can buy affordable food grown locally, everyone wins,” she said. “It creates jobs on local farms and bolsters economic growth in rural communities.”

While the Farm Bill is normally passed by Congress every five years, Congressional leaders have indicated they want to create a new Farm Bill over the next few weeks, according to Pingree’s office. The new Farm Bill would be inserted it into the deficit reduction package that is being considered by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and 40 member groups were closely involved in the developing the bill, the organization said. Some of the other groups involved include the National Farmers Union, National Organic Coalition, Community Food Security Coalition, American Farmland Trust and the National Farm to School Network.

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