Brown Leads Bipartisan Effort to Help Ohio Farmers Grow Their Businesses & Support Local Economy

Senator Brown

The Local Farms and Food Act Would Help Ohio Farmers Sell Directly to their Community and Help More People Access Nutritious, Local Food; Legislation Builds on the Success of Brown’s Local FARMS Act Included in the 2018 Farm Bill

By Green Umbrella,

Published April 19, 2023

Senator Brown
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Source: Senator Sherrod Brown

Brown Leads Bipartisan Effort to Help Ohio Farmers Grow Their Businesses & Support Local Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call to discuss his bipartisan Local Farms and Food Act, which would make it easier for Ohio farmers to sell their products locally, improving and updating Farm Bill programs Brown helped pass, based on feedback from Ohio farmers.

“We support local economies best when we produce more in Ohio – whether it’s cars or produce or beef or flowers. Ohioans shouldn’t have to buy apples from Washington when they could get them from Geauga County, or vegetables from Mexico when they could get them from a farm in Tiffin,” said Sen. Brown. “This will build on our success in past Farm Bills and make improvements to ensure Ohio farmers have the tools and support they need to sell their products in their own communities.”

Brown was joined on the call by Kristy Buskirk, the owner of Clay Hill Produce and Flowers in Tiffin, who spoke about her experiences selling her produce locally in Ohio and the importance of making it easier for Ohio farmers to sell within their communities and our state. 

“Selling directly to our consumers, mainly at farmers markets, we have been able to expand our customer bases by accepting food assistance vouchers, including senior coupons. These are such a win-win for the community. As our business grows, the funds in this bill also make expanding our sales into wholesale channels more accessible by funding the necessary infrastructure. Farming is hard enough and having support to feed our community helps both my business and my community thrive,” said Buskirk.

The bipartisan, bicameral Local Farms and Food Act would simplify applications for certain Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program projects, increase funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), reauthorize the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, reduce barriers to the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), and build upon the GusNIP Produce Prescription Program, among other provisions. U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Peter Welch (D-VT) and John Fetterman (D-PA) introduced the legislation with Brown and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced companion legislation in the House.

Brown introduced the Local FARMS Act of 2017 and secured key provisions from it in the 2018 Farm Bill — including, most notably, the creation of the Local Agriculture Market Program. He has talked with farmers and other agriculture representatives at roundtables around the state over the last several months as a part of the 2023 Farm Bill planning process. Brown, the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 50 years, has long been a leader for Ohio’s rural communities and will help write the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill.

This bill is a win for local farmers, consumers and the environment – I look forward to working with my colleagues to get it passed.

U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN)

“Agriculture is the backbone of Minnesota’s diverse economy, and all Minnesotans should have access to healthy, local food,” said Sen. Smith. “This bill would support local farmers and producers while making it easier for them to sell their products to local markets. This bill is a win for local farmers, consumers and the environment – I look forward to working with my colleagues to get it passed.” 

“Vermont’s farmers work hard to produce world class products that are at the core of our economy and culture. But many Vermont families can’t access locally grown food, and small and mid-sized farms often struggle to bring their products to market. The Local Farms and Food Act will help bridge the gap between farms and families, helping our farmers grow their businesses and expanding access to nutritious, local food. I’m proud to join my colleagues to support this bipartisan, bicameral, common-sense measure,” said Sen. Welch.  

“This bill invests in rural communities by increasing access to nutritious, locally grown food, and cuts red tape to make it easier for farmers to bring their products to market,” said Sen. Fetterman. “It’s a slam dunk, and let’s get it done.”

“More and more consumers want to know where their food comes from, who grew it, and how it was produced. Despite this growing demand in Maine and across the country, it’s estimated that food in the United States travels roughly 1,500 miles from farm to plate. We can and must do more to reduce that distance and build out local food systems,” said Rep. Pingree. “My bipartisan Local Farms and Food Act is a win all around – it provides resources for local farmers to bring their products to market, it helps ensure local communities have access to healthy foods, and it reduces our environmental footprint by encouraging more direct to consumer food purchasing.”

“Central Washington is one of the most agriculturally rich and diverse regions in the United States. To continue our support for local and regional food systems, we must ensure our farmers have the necessary resources to bring their products to market so people are able to enjoy the delicious food grown right in their own communities. I am proud to introduce the Local Farms and Food Act that will strengthen support for our growers and help people gain access to locally grown food,” said Rep. Newhouse.

The legislation is endorsed by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Ohio Farmers Union, the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, Ohio Food Policy Network, BIPOC Farming Network, Green Umbrella, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Farmers Market Coalition, Fair Food Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, Wholesome Wave, American Farmland Trust, Agricultural Viability Alliance, American Sustainable Business Network, Kiss the Ground, Regenerate America, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Farm Action Fund and Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council.

“Better infrastructure and greater investment in regional food systems are needed to build a more resilient supply chain,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “The Local Farm and Food Act puts power back into the hands of farmers, ranchers, and their communities. National Farmers Union is happy to support this bill.”

“The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has been meeting with members and partners throughout the state of Ohio since last fall to talk about what is needed to continue the progress on local and regional food system development in the upcoming farm bill,” said OEFFA Policy Director Amalie Lipstreu. “After hearing from Senator Brown’s office and seeing the Local Farms and Food Act, it is clear they are attuned to what is needed to continue to grow more resilient and healthful food systems.”

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