Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) today introduced in Congress the Local Farms, Food & Jobs Act of 2013, which seeks to make fresh, healthy food more accessible to consumers and to support the farmers who grow it.
“Demand for local food is growing in every corner of the country,” Scott Faber, vice president for government affairs at Environmental Working Group, said in a press release. “Senator Brown and Congresswoman Pingree should be applauded for their efforts to provide the local, healthy food that restaurants, schools, hospitals and consumers are clamoring for. It’s time to fix our broken food and farm system.”
Sen. Brown and Rep. Pingree’s bill includes a comprehensive package of cost-effective policy reforms that would boost farmers’ and ranchers’ incomes by helping them meet the growing demand for local and regional food. Given the nation’s costly epidemic of diet-related disease, small investments that increase access to and affordability of healthier food — especially fruits and vegetables — could save billions of dollars in health care costs down the road.
According to USDA estimates, sales by local food markets have grown nearly 40 percent from $5 billion in 2008 to an estimated $7 billion at the end of 2012. According to EWG data, the farm bill has provided an average of $113 million a year since 2008 on local and regional food and faming projects, a tiny sum compared to the roughly $12 billion in annual subsidies that go to industrial-scale growers of commodity crops.
The bill aims to accomplish the following: