WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation, The Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act, which will help farmers sell their products directly to consumers, create rural jobs, and invest in local and regional food economies.
“When we make it easier to connect farmers to their communities, we don’t just help individual farms – we invest in entire local economies,” said Brown. “Why should Ohioans buy raspberries from California, when they could buy them from a farm in Knox County? Why should we buy apples from Washington when we could get them from the Hirsch Fruit Farm in Chillicothe? We can help farmers from around the state grow their bottom lines and sell more product at home in Ohio.”
The Local FARMS Act funds and modifies three existing grant programs, which help farmers and others connect their products with local consumers:
The bill also expands the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which helps seniors access fresh foods at farmers markets and qualifying organizations. Under Brown’s bill, the program could assist low-income military veterans as well.
Brown was joined on a news conference call today by Daniel Trudel from Ann’s Raspberry Farm in Fredericktown. In 2014, Ann’s Raspberry Farm was awarded a Value Added Producer Grant, which helped them grow their business and enter into new markets around Ohio.
“As a recipient of the Value-Added Producer Grant, the resources and funding provided by this program have been instrumental in serving as a key growth vehicle to our farm business. Programs like the Value-Added Producer Grant have paid dividends for us and will undoubtedly offer new opportunities for other farmers in the future,” said Mr. Trudel.
Brown’s legislation would help more farmers sell their products directly to consumers and create jobs by assisting farmers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs. It would also ensure that consumers have better access to nutritious, locally-grown food and protect long-term funding for local food programs.
U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) will introduce companion legislation in the House.
“The Local FARMS Act is dedicated to protecting the future of family farm agriculture in America,” said Wes King, Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “This bill will connect farmers and ranchers with new markets and economic opportunities, and also increase access to healthy, local food for families across the country. We applaud Senator Brown and Representatives Pingree, Fortenberry, and Maloney for introducing this much-needed legislation.”
In 2014, Brown was part of the Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee that successfully negotiated a five-year farm bill. Brown is currently participating in hearings being held in the Senate Agriculture Committee on the 2018 Farm Bill. Brown is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 50 years