Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Representing the 1st District of Maine

Pingree Leads Bipartisan Push to Support Local Market Opportunities in Farm Bill

Sep 11, 2018
Press Release
Washington, D.C.—Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) today led a bipartisan letter of 43 House members urging leadership of the Farm Bill conference committee to include the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) in the legislation’s final text. LAMP would consolidate numerous existing programs that support new market development into a single streamlined program with permanent, mandatory funding. 
 
“Across the country, farmers are looking for new markets as they deal with trade uncertainty and a strained farm economy.  Meanwhile consumer interest in growing markets, such as local food, is creating new opportunities for farmers in their own communities. While USDA has a number of successful programs to help farmers take advantage of these new market opportunities, they can be hard to navigate and funding remains uncertain year-to-year,” Pingree said. “Putting these programs under one roof and solidifying funding would go a long way toward helping more farmers and organizations reliably access them. As conference committee members work out a final Farm Bill, including LAMP would be a sure-fire way for them to effectively support agricultural economic growth.”   
 
LAMP was a provision of HR 3941, the Local FARMS Act, which Pingree introduced with Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY). A companion bill, S. 1947, was introduced by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
 
LAMP would:
  • Consolidate Value Added Producer Grants, Farmers Market/Local Food Promotion Program, Value Chain Coordinators, and planning partnerships into a new program administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service in coordination with Rural Business-Cooperative Service;
  • Maintain purpose and eligible entities for each program;
  • Identify Cooperative Extension Service as the lead for outreach and technical assistance;
  • Provide $60 million in mandatory funding and $20 million in appropriated funding;
  • Reserve 35% of funding for farmer or rancher grants; and
  • Reserve 10% of funding for projects supporting beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. 
Pingree’s letter was signed by 42 other House members, including two Republicans—Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA). The letter was also signed by Reps. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Earl Blumenauer, G. K. Butterfield, André Carson, Kathy Castor, David N. Cicilline, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Rosa L. DeLauro, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Tulsi Gabbard, John Garamendi, Jared Huffman, Marcy Kaptur, Ron Kind, Barbara Lee, Ted W. Lieu, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Doris Matsui, Betty McCollum, A. Donald McEachin, Grace Meng, Seth Moulton, Richard M. Nolan, Ed Perlmutter, Mark Pocan, Jared Polis, David E. Price, Tim Ryan, Jan Schakowsky, Carol Shea-Porter, Darren Soto, Mike Thompson, Niki Tsongas, Peter Welch, Denny Heck, and Ben Ray Luján.
 
Text of the letter is below and PDF icona signed version is here. More information on LAMP is available at https://pingree.house.gov/lamp.
 
The Honorable Pat Roberts
Chairman
Senate Agriculture Committee
 
The Honorable Debbie Stabenow
Ranking Member
Senate Agriculture Committee
 
The Honorable Michael K. Conway
Chairman
House Agriculture Committee
 
The Honorable Collin Peterson
Ranking Member
House Agriculture Committee
 
Dear Chairmen Roberts and Conaway and Ranking Members Stabenow and Peterson:
 
As you negotiate the 2018 Farm Bill, we urge you to include the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) in the final farm bill text.
 
As you know, the overall farm economy has been strained in recent years and this has necessitated the development of new markets for farmers.  For example, the local and regional food industry has experienced significant grown in recent years, growing to a $8.7 billion market in 2015, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Consumer demand for local food shows no sign of slowing down, as USDA predicts that local food will reach $20 billion in sales by 2019.  Especially as farmers cope with such extreme uncertainty around agricultural trade, we should do everything we can to cultivate promising domestic markets such as this.
 
We have seen the benefits of these new markets in our own districts, both in rural and urban communities.  For example, in 2015, over 167,000 farmers across the country produced and sold food locally.  The local and regional food industry has helped farmers support their local economies, preserve farmland, bridge urban and rural communities, and connect with consumers who are eager to learn more about food production.  Federal efforts have been integral to the growth of these new markets, and we have the opportunity to build on these efforts in the next farm bill.
 
We fully support the language included in the 2018 Senate Farm Bill that would establish the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP).  LAMP would consolidate numerous existing programs that support new market development into a single streamlined program, while maintaining the purpose and eligible entities for each existing program.  For example, the Value Added Producer Grant Program would continue helping farmers launch products and expand marketing efforts in local, national, as well as international markets.  LAMP would be a one-stop-shop for farmers, agricultural organizations, and other stakeholders that are seeking support for projects that help farmers reach new markets.  It is critical to provide permanent mandatory funding for LAMP so that there is consistent federal investment in new and growing agricultural markets.
 
We ask that you support new economic opportunities for farmers by including LAMP in the final farm bill text.
 
Sincerely,