Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is announcing her support for the 2018 Farm Bill released today and negotiated by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. The legislation contains numerous provisions that Pingree introduced and fought for to support farmers serving organic and local markets, and to reduce food waste.
She released the following statement on the bill:
“Two of the brightest spots in agriculture right now are the growing markets for locally sourced and organic food. Maine is a great example of how these trends are driving economic growth in rural communities that need it and inspiring a new generation of farmers.
“The Farm Bill released this week takes a number of significant steps to better support these key areas of agriculture. I’m proud that it contains several provisions I worked with Maine and national stakeholders to introduce, such as strengthening farmer access to local and regional markets, more than doubling funding for organic research, and advancing steps to reduce food waste. And I’m excited that this legislation includes funding for a new produce prescription program that will allow us to test this innovative food-is-medicine strategy and improve health outcomes, especially among low-income families.
“This bill is far from perfect—for one, it is a missed opportunity to reform the billions of dollars we spend on lopsided subsidies. I will continue pushing to get those much-needed reforms in the next Farm Bill. But I’m relieved that we were able to strip the worst partisan provisions from the legislation, such as denying food assistance to 2 million Americans through burdensome work requirements, weakening environmental protections, and nullifying local authority with the King Amendment. These are major victories for the American people. On the whole, I think the bill will serve Maine families and rural communities well over the next five years—and in particular will help our farmers take advantage of the opportunities before them.”
Pingree Wins Included in Bill
The following are provisions from three bills that Pingree wrote, introduced in the House, and worked to ensure companion legislation was sponsored in the Senate—the Organic Agriculture Research Act, the Local FARMS Act, and the Food Recovery Act. (More info on these bills available at www.pingree.house.gov/food.
Increasing Access to Healthy Foods: Creates a national produce prescription pilot program to implement and test the use of produce prescriptions to increase access to healthy food for low-income families.
Strengthening Local Agriculture Programs: Creates the new Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), consolidating several existing grant programs frequently used by small farmers, (such as Value Added Producer Grants and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs) and starting a new program to assist farmers with the costs of complying with federal food safety regulations. Importantly, the programs within LAMP would receive a total $50 million of mandatory funding per year—the first time these programs have received permanent funding—and are authorized to receive an additional $20 million of appropriated funding
Expanding Organic Research: Scaling up annual funding for the Organic Research and Extension Initiative from $20 million in FY2019/20, to $25 million in FY2021, to $30 million in FY2022, to $50 million in FY23.
Reducing Food Waste: Bill establishes first-ever Food Loss and Waste Reduction Liaison at USDA and commissions food waste study—including the evaluating the effectiveness of existing food donation liability protections—among other food recovery initiatives.