Today, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Local Farms and Food Act. The legislation would reduce applicant barriers for some local food programs, increase investments in critical infrastructure, and sustain impactful nutrition incentives. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) proudly endorses this local food marker bill.
“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.”
At the center of the proposed legislation are “turnkey grants,” which simplify the process of awarding up to $100,000 for projects through the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP).
An increase in funding—from $50 million to $75 million per year—is proposed to cover FMPP projects like outreach and promotion, market manager staff time, vendor training, design projects, and data collection and evaluation. Under the LFPP, turnkey grant options include food hub feasibility studies, value chain coordinator staff time, technical assistance, data collection and evaluation, and general-purpose equipment.
Proposed changes to the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) also include a reduced matching fund requirement—from 50 to 25 percent for applications with an Adjusted Gross Income of $250,000 or less. This, along with the increase in funding and prioritization of geographically diverse awardees, will improve equity and access to the suite of LAMP subprograms.
“As a small-scale certified organic produce and cut flower farm, our needs are different from the larger agricultural farms,” said Kristy Buskirk of Clay Hill Organic Farm. “Not only do we sell our food differently, but we farm differently. We are striving to feed our community while caring for the soils, farmworkers, and larger biological communities. Senator Brown’s staff has been doing a lot of work to speak to farmers like myself and I know they have been listening. I hope other Ohio legislators are listening and sign on in support of this bill!”
Additionally, the act would reauthorize the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and reduce the matching fund requirement of the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP).
“The Greater Cincinnati regional food system is an example of how LAMP, GusNIP, and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program can enable us to get more fresh, local food out into our communities, including schools and households with kids and seniors, all while strengthening our local economy and supporting our region’s farmers and food businesses,” said Maddie Chera, director of the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council.
“Our Food Policy Council would like to see this regional market development continue,” Chera continued. “The 2023 Farm Bill can support the USDA in directing its resources to the organizations that have the least capacity to navigate complex requirements, but that stand to make significant impacts on the resilience and health of our region and across Ohio.”
OEFFA encourages members of Congress to co-sponsor the Local Farms and Food Act and support its adoption in the 2023 Farm Bill.
Increasing investments in local and regional food systems is one of OEFFA’s five 2023 Farm Bill Priorities. To learn more, visit action.oeffa.com/farm-bill.