Congressional hearing today on farm bill to include Pingree’s local food provisions

By Ramona du Houx - July 11th, 2012

The House Agriculture Committee is taking up a bill today that will set the nation’s farm policy for the next five years and is likely to contain major provisions written by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree to support local farms and food. The legislation—the 2012 Farm Bill—already contains a number of Pingree’s proposals and more are expected to be offered as amendments during the Committee session today. Pingree is a member of the Agriculture Committee.

“Getting these local food provisions in the Farm Bill is a significant step forward for local food,” Pingree said. “For too long the country’s farm policy has been focused on giant agri-businesses and not on farms that grow the food we actually want to eat. We’ve got a long way to go to level the playing field for local farmers, but if we get these provisions in the FarmBill we are at least starting to tip the scale back in the right direction.”

The Committee bill already includes a number of Pingree’s local food provisions including programs to provide electronic card readers and smart phone technology at farmers markets, so shoppers who use SNAP benefits (food stamps) can use their electronic benefit cards there. The bill also includes Pingree provisions to provide insurance for farmers who grow diversified crops as well as a pilot program to help schools buy more localfood for their meal programs.

The Senate recently passed a Farm Bill that included a number of the local food provisions, and when the full House takes up their version of the bill later this summer, even more of those local food proposals will likely be included.