Local and Regional Farm and Food Bill Introduced in Congress

On Nov., 1, 2011, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine and 35 original co-sponsors introduced the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, a comprehensive bill intended for inclusion in the 2012 Farm Bill.

| November 8, 2011

farm bill barn

 The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act revises and expands existing federal farm programs to ensure that they effectively foster local and regional food system development.


The legislation helps farmers and ranchers by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs to access growing local and regional food markets.  The bill also assists consumers by improving access to healthy food.  The measure provides secure farm bill funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, create rural jobs, and invest in the local food and agriculture economy.

“We applaud Senator Brown and Congresswoman Pingree for introducing this legislation,” says Helen Dombalis, a Policy Associate with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act revises and expands existing federal farm programs to ensure that they effectively foster local and regional food system development. The bill invests in communities – when consumers are connected to and invested in where their food comes from and agricultural producers meet this demand, local economies reap the benefits.”

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and its 40 member groups were closely involved in the development of the bill. Among the many other groups endorsing the measure are the National Farmers Union, National Organic Coalition, Community Food Security Coalition, American Farmland Trust, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and National Farm to School Network.

The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act includes provisions that cut across ten titles of the Farm Bill, including proposals that address conservation, credit, nutrition, rural development, research and extension, food safety, livestock, and crop insurance. Some of the specific proposals within the bill include:

Whole Farm Revenue Insurance

The bill will authorize USDA’s Risk Management Agency to develop a Whole Farm Adjusted Revenue Risk Management insurance product that is available in all states and all counties and is relevant to all diversified operations including but not limited to specialty crops and mixed grain-livestock or dairy operations, contract producers, and organic and conventional farms. Additionally, the legislation directs USDA to offer the product at the same buy-up coverage levels as other policies, include a strong crop diversification bonus, and account for all the costs involved in getting a crop to market.

Commenting on the utility of the legislation, Jack Hedin of Featherstone Farm in Rushford, MN points out: “One of the greatest challenges that a diversified, fresh market truck farm such as my own faces, as it scales up to meet burgeoning demand, is the lack of affordable, appropriately designed crop insurance such as the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act envisions. This kind of insurance would be a huge help to the growth of the local and regional food industry.”

heather kelleher
3/12/2012 5:30:41 PM

To me, this bill seems like another attempt for the gov. to try to fix problems that it created in the first place. While I certainly support small, local farmers (buying directly from them is the best support you can give), I don't support continued gov. intrusion, involvement and control.

abbey bend
12/7/2011 3:15:49 PM

Right on the money Gerald!!!!

abbey bend
12/7/2011 3:15:28 PM

One more UNFUNDED government welfare program! It is time for people to wake up and reject the overwhelming spending by government! If we want to have any freedom again in this country, it is time to scale back the USDA, make it accountable for the regulations it has now and does not enforce, understand bigger and bigger, government is not the answer! When people make/grow a good product, people will buy it! The government does not need to waste money supporting it or telling us which one are going to survive and which ones are not going to survive!

gerald naughton
11/16/2011 4:50:18 PM

Yes, the answer to corporate Big Ag welfare passed out by the USDA (United Stated Department of Fossil Fuel Based Commodity Grains) is to set up and spend more money we'll have to steal from our grandchildren and borrow from the Chinese on: Local and Regional Ag welfare! Why is M-E-N such a big government booster?

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