As I travel across Maine, I frequently hear from people who tell me how much they value buying and feeding their families fresh, healthy food grown close to home. And it shows--the number of farmers markets in Maine has grown tenfold in the past thirty years. But as we all know, there is more work to be done to help family farms thrive and make sure we as consumers can buy local food easily.
Last fall, I introduced HR 3286 the Local Farm, Food and Jobs Act to increase our access to local food by diverting subsidies away from corporate agriculture and to more local, sustainable farms. I'm happy to report that we are making good progress and the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a Farm Bill last week that includes several important provisions of my Local Farm, Food and Jobs Act. These provisions include an organic certification cost-share program that helps farmers shift from conventional to organic farming, an improved promotion program that provides grants for marketing assistance to businesses like roadside farm stands and farmers markets and a crop insurance program specifically for diversified farmers. Despite these good first steps, we still have a long way to go. I am now working with my colleagues in the House Agriculture Committee on the House Farm Bill. It is my goal to include as many pieces as possible of the Local Farm, Food and Jobs Act in the final Farm Bill.
Earlier this week, Russell Libby of the Maine Organic Farmers And Gardeners Association testified in a subcommittee hearing about the need for the Farm Bill reauthorization to do more to support local and sustainable farmers. I can't think of anyone in Maine or the country who has more first-hand knowledge about how national policy affects local farmers and I'm glad he was able to join me in Washington to share his views with House members who will shape the Farm Bill.
Thank you for your continued support as we work together to improve farm policy in America. With your help, small changes can truly make a difference.
All my best,
US House of Representatives