The Senate has passed a Farm Bill with local food and farm reforms. Does this mean good news for local farmers and those who frequent farmers markets?

Flickr[/caption]Congresswoman Chellie Pingree along with Senator Sherrod Brown introduced the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act in the House in 2011. Proposals from that act were included as parts of the recently passed 5-year funding bill and are designed to reform the nation's farm policy.

Pingree may offer additional local food and farming provisions to the bill next week as the House is expected to take up the 5-year Farm Bill.

Here are some details of what the bill is all about:

  • Increasing access to local food for SNAP (food stamp) recipients, including a program to provide electronic benefit card readers to farmers markets at no cost; a double-voucher program to increase the buying power at direct-to-consumer outlets; and a provision to make it easier for SNAP dollars to be spent on Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs).
  • Diversified crop insurance, which will insure a whole diversified farm, not just insurance per row crop.
  • Organic crop insurance, which treats organic farmers more equitably and will give organic farmers a fair price for their food.
  • Value-added producer grants, which will significantly assist in re-establishing food system infrastructure in ruralareas. The grants will help target and strengthen the profitability and competitiveness of family farms.
  • Establish a Food Corps program for community service members to connect schools to local farms and engage K-12 students in experiential learning about agriculture, gardening, nutrition, cooking, andwhere their food comes from.

For more information on Pingree's local food bill, go to: pingree.house.gov/localfood.

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