Washington, D.C. – In a win for our nation’s farmers and local food production, several provisions authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) from the Local Farms and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act were included in the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support and now awaits the President’s signature.
“These provisions will provide important funding for several agricultural and health programs that connect farmers with local and regional markets, reduce barriers to entry for local producers, and leverage local resources for programs that combat food insecurity,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that an overwhelming bipartisan majority of my colleagues joined Senator Brown and me in advancing these provisions to support our agriculture community.”
“When we make it easier to connect farmers to their communities, we don’t just help individual farms – we invest in entire local economies. I worked on this legislation after meeting with farmers, producers, and small businesses across my state. It builds on the important work we did in the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bill to grow these important programs,” said Senator Brown. “This bill will help farmers from around the state grow their bottom lines and sell more product at home in Ohio.”
"The inclusion of the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) in the final 2018 Farm Bill sends a signal to family farmers and food-producing communities that their work is valued by policymakers in Washington, D.C. Making permanent investments in local and regional food systems through LAMP shows the growing value of these markets, the growth of which is needed now more than ever as farming and rural communities continue to struggle in a declining agricultural economy," said Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). "NSAC is very proud to have been one of LAMP's strongest allies during the farm bill negotiations, and we thank Senator Brown and Senator Collins for their leadership and dedication to this important work."
Provisions authored by Senators Collins and Brown that were incorporated in the Farm Bill include:
- $80 million per year for five years to establish the Agricultural Market Development Program, which would improve the local food supply chain by providing grants to farmers to support farm-to-retail marketing, farmers’ markets, agritourism, and planning and feasibility studies;
- $8 million per year for five years to support the Organic Cost-Share Certification Program, which helps small and mid-sized farms afford the annual costs associated with organic certification. According to the 2017 National Young Farmers Survey of Maine farmers under 40, the Organic Cost-Share Certification Program was the most commonly-used federal program with a 35% use rate among young Maine farmers;
- $4 million per year for five years for a new Harvesting Health pilot program, which would provide low-income individuals with fresh fruits and vegetables; and
- $50 million per year—an increase of approximately $30 million per year—for the reauthorization of the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which also expands eligibility to low-income veterans.