We learned from Michael Pollan’s Twitter feed that the Farm Bill that has passed the House Agriculture Committee features provisions that will “support and expand local farms and food.” According to this release, the provisions, written by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, include:
- Farm-to-school programs that will allow schools to spend their federal commodity funding to buy food from local farmers. The Portland Public School System has been involved in a pilot program to buy local food for school lunches for a number of years.
- Increasing access to local food for SNAP (food stamp) beneficiaries, including a program to provide electronic benefit card readers to farmers markets at no cost; a double-voucher program to increase the buying power of beneficiaries at farmers markets; and a provision to make it easier for small farms to accept SNAP benefits for in CSAs.
- Diversified crop insurance, which allows farmers who grow a range of products to get insurance for their crops, just like large-scale commodity farmers now do.
- Organic crop insurance, which treats organic farmers more equitably and will give organic farmers a fair price for their food.
- Value-added producer grants, which allow farmers to make investments that will increase the value of their products. For example, a farmer could use a grant to install a creamery in order to make cheese.
The full House has yet to vote on the Farm Bill.