Maloney Introduces Local FARMS Act to Help Hudson Valley Farmers Deliver Produce Directly to Customers
Poughkeepsie, NY – In response to the recent explosion of interest in organic and locally-grown foods, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, announced the introduction of the bipartisan Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act to support local farmers and consumers. The bill would overhaul and consolidate valuable USDA programs to improve efficiency and assistance for farmers and farm organizations as well as help farmers meet food safety and certification requirements, enhance distribution, and expand farm-to-school programs.
“This bill is the real deal—it’ll do wonders for our rural farm economies throughout the Hudson Valley while providing more opportunities to feed New York—it’s a win for everyone,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18). “Talk to any farmer and they’ll tell you how hard it is to get their food directly to customers—this will smooth some of those roadblocks, reduce the headaches for farmers, and make it easier for folks to get their hands on clean, locally grown food.”
“Dutchess County’s history and future are rooted in agriculture,” said Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro. “Our agriculture industry is vibrant and growing, with farmers who have enthusiasm and passion for delivering healthy, locally sourced food products to consumers. We are grateful to Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney for championing initiatives that can open new distribution channels to farmers, making it easier to get wholesome, healthy foods to consumers who can benefit the most from them.”
"Agriculture has long been a fundamental driver of our economy, especially here in the Hudson Valley where our local farms are renowned for their superior quality,” said New York State Senator Sue Serino. “We’re at a critical point in our history where ‘thinking local’ is a trending initiative, ‘farm to table’ is synonymous with quality, and consumers are actively using their purchasing power to make positive impacts on our communities. I am glad to see that Congressman Maloney and our representatives at the federal level recognize the need to cut through the red tape, streamline processes and invest in our farmer’s ability to fuel our community. This legislation is good for our farmers and it’s good for our families, and I thank the Congressman for putting a spotlight on it here today."
"Hudson Valley farmers and vendors make essential contributions to the cultures and economies of New York State,” said New York State Assemblyman Frank Skartados. “I am especially happy to see younger generations start farms of their own, even as financial barriers and a lack of access to land often stand in their way. I support any measure like the Local FARMS Act that encourages the development of local agriculture and commerce and therefore the health and wellbeing of our communities and people.”
“I appreciate the efforts in support of Congressman Maloney in his sponsorship of the Local FARMS Act,” said Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison. “Access to good food leads to better nutrition and the health of a community. We have an obligation and a responsibility to make sure that government, in partnership with other members of the agricultural community, does everything it possibly can to increase the accessibility and protection of our food supply. We are lucky to live in the Hudson Valley which gives our community access to local food.”
“The Local FARMS act supports our farmers and the food systems the Hudson Valley region with a comprehensive approach from the field to the plate,” said Todd M. Erling, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corp. “From on farm production, food safety, and distribution to access and nutrition education, this bill proposes improving programs and increasing funding for critical elements of our local economies. The individual components taken together have the power to enable our farm and food producers to grow and thrive while increasing access and affordability to fresh nutritional food for our communities. We recognize that agriculture and food systems are really about rural-urban relationships. The Local FARMS Act creates new support structures to engage and enhance these rural-urban partnerships.”
“We’re lucky enough to be a current recipient of a USDA farm-to-school grant – in fact it’s our second. What we’ve been able to do with those funds is really great for our community,” said Jamie Levato, Education Director, Poughkeepsie Farm Project. “We’re hoping this legislation can help support our work, and we’re very grateful to Representative Maloney for his work so far.”
HR 3941, the Local FARMS Act would:
• Consolidate key programs into the Agricultural Market Development Program, which would be a one-stop shop for farmers and other supply chain participants to expand local food market opportunities;
• Address veterans' hunger by expanding eligibility for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program to all veterans;
• Provide resources to farmers for food safety certification and equipment upgrade expenses;
• Promote local food procurement and education in schools;
• Ensure USDA grants and loans can be used to support local livestock, dairy and poultry processing infrastructure;
• Help domestic organic farmers meet the growing demand for organic food by continuing the organic cost-share program; and
• Connect food and medicine through a pilot program that would provide produce prescriptions to low-income individuals.
Farmers selling local food through direct marketing channels have seen an incredible growth in economic opportunities. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 160,000 U.S. farmers sold $8.7 billion worth of local food to directly to consumers, retailers, institutions and local distributors in 2015—$3 billion directly to consumers, $2.4 billion to retailers, and $3.4 billion to institutions and businesses that market locally branded products. Of those producers, 81 percent sold all their food within 100 miles of the farm.
In rural communities, boosting local and regional food markets can have a significant impact on local economies and help keep rural families on the farm. Direct marketing channels also serve as an important entry point for new farmers who are breaking into the industry for the first time. Investing in local food markets would offer consumers more choices while helping farms diversify their incomes to become more sustainable.
The bill is being introduced by Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) in the House of Representatives. A companion version is being introduced in the Senate by Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The bill is supported by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, National Farmers Union, American Farmland Trust, National Young Farmers Coalition, Food Corps, Wholesome Wave, Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Columbia University, Self-Help Credit Union and Affiliates, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association.