Reps. Pingree (D-Maine), Newhouse (R-Washington.), Caraveo (D-Colorado), Tokuda (D-Hawaii) and Sens. Brown (D-Ohio), Smith (D-Minnesota), Welch (D-Vermont), and Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania) introduced the Local Farms and Food Act in the House and the Senate.
The bill offers reforms to the Local Agriculture Market Program, Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. The legislation would increase access to each program to “catalyze investments in underserved areas and among small producers,” sponsors said, noting that the investments would “strengthen local and regional food system infrastructure and promote local economic development in both rural and urban communities.”
Despite 2018 Farm Bill investments that helped during the pandemic and other recent supply chain disruptions, many producers are still left out of the system, the bill’s sponsors said. “Appropriately sized processing, aggregation, and distribution infrastructure is still inadequate. A lack of technical assistance for producers and entrepreneurs on a range of issues from food safety to business planning continues to make it difficult for many farmers and producers to update their businesses to meet current needs,” according to the lawmakers. “Program reforms offered through the Local Farms and Food Act seek to generate investments in these underfunded areas to expand program impact.”