Local food bill introduced by Pingree

Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013 in News

Local food bill introduced by Pingree

Chellie Pingree with Tom Colicchio of Bravo's 'Top Chef'

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act on Tuesday, a comprehensive package of reforms that would expand opportunities for local and regional farmers and make it easier for consumers to have access to healthy foods.   The bill also helps put more local food into schools, rebuild the farm infrastructure in rural communities and help farmers break down barriers to new markets.

"Consumers want to know where their food is coming from and they want healthy, local options when they shop for their families," Pingree said.  "But national farm policy hasn't kept up with the public and it's about time we changed that."

"Linking Ohio producers with Ohio consumers is common sense,” Brown said. “By increasing access to fresh, local foods, we can expand markets for Ohio’s agricultural producers while improving health, creating jobs, and strengthening our economy."

Pingree and Brown announced the bill at a press conference in Washington today and were joined by Tom Colicchio, the host of Bravo's Top Chef and winner of five James Beard Awards.  Colicchio also founded the Gramercy Tavern, Craft and Colicchio & Sons restaurants in New York. 

"Demand for locally grown food is growing in every corner of the country: thousands of farmers and farmers markets are serving millions of consumers and more than 2,000 schools have farm to school programs," Colicchio said.  "But, you wouldn’t know a food revolution was sweeping our country if you read the Farm Bill."

Pingree said local food is already accounting for $5 billion in sales, but could have an even bigger impact on the economy.

Pingree and Brown first introduced the bill in the fall of 2011, and many of the proposals in the bill were included in versions of the Farm Bill that passed the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee last year.  The Farm Bill was never brought to the House floor for a vote, so the process will start again this spring.

"Overall, these are non-partisan issues. Helping family farms through modest support and commonsense policy changes are popular in every corner of the country.  I am hopeful we can go even further this year," Pingree said.

Some of the proposals in the bill include:

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