How did you celebrate Food Day? What did you do to celebrate buying and eating local food in Sacramento? See the article, Celebrate Food Day by Telling Congress to Support Local Food.
Who in Sacramento and regional areas will the new Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act help most? Visit The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition NSAC’s website. The legislation will help local farmers and ranchers. The idea of eating local in Sacramento is catching on along with the popularity of local farmers’ markets and food markets carrying local produce.
Today Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine announced that next week they will introduce the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, a comprehensive bill intended for inclusion in the 2012 Farm Bill, according to the October 27, 2011 news release, “Local and Regional Food Bill Prepared for Inclusion in New Farm Bill.”
This legislation will help farmers and ranchers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs. It will also assist consumers by improving access to healthy food. Of utmost importance, the bill will provide secure farm bill funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities and rural jobs, and invest in the local agriculture economy.
“We applaud Senator Brown and Congresswoman Pingree for introducing this legislation, which is important to farmers and consumers alike,” said Helen Dombalis, a Policy Associate with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, according to the news release. “The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act revises and expands federal farm programs already in place to ensure that they work well for producers wanting to add value to their products and to sell in their own communities and regional markets, helping to meet rapidly expanding consumer demand for local food.”
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and its 40 member groups were closely involved in the development of the bill. Among the many other groups endorsing the measure are the National Farmers Union, National Organic Coalition, Community Food Security Coalition, American Farmland Trust, and the National Farm to School Network.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. The coalition also advocates for supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities.
NSAC’s vision of agriculture is one where a safe, nutritious, ample, and affordable food supply is produced by a legion of family farmers who make a decent living pursuing their trade, while protecting the environment, and contributing to the strength and stability of their communities.
NSAC member groups, according to its website, advance common positions to support small and mid-size family farms, protect natural resources, promote healthy rural communities, and ensure access to healthy, nutritious foods by everyone. By bringing grassroots perspectives to the table normally dominated by big business, NSAC levels the playing field and gives voice to sustainable and organic farmers. To do this work, NSAC:
- gathers input from sustainable and organic farmers and ranchers, and from a diverse group of grassroots farm, food, rural, and conservation organizations that work directly with farmers;
- develops policy through participatory issue committees that involve NSAC member organizations and allies;
- provides direct representation in Washington, D.C. on behalf of its membership to members of Congress and federal administrative offices, such as USDA and EPA; and
- builds the power of the sustainable agriculture movement by strengthening the capacity of its member groups to promote citizen engagement in the policy process.
What the Bill Proposes
The comprehensive bill called the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, includes provisions that cut across ten titles of the Farm Bill, including proposals that address conservation, credit, nutrition, rural development, research and extension, food safety, livestock, and crop insurance. For instance, the bill would:
- 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.