Expand Support for Regional Food Economies
Food policy councils or advisory boards can help to coordinate efforts across agencies and between states and the federal government, which can bolster sustainable agriculture and food networks across the country. States can significantly increase demand for local food through procurement policies, whether directly through procurement requirements by state-run agencies or incentives for institutions run by other entities.
State Policy Priorities
- Create food policy councils or advisory boards to coordinate and oversee regional food economy efforts.
- Establish benchmarks for local procurement.
- Increase use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at farmers markets.
- Supplement and match spending of low-income consumers at farmers markets.
- Maryland (2021 MD SB 723) is one of the newest states to consider legislation to create a state food council, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- California (2021 CA AB 778) and Hawaii (2021 HI SB 1251) have made efforts to establish benchmarks for procurement of local products in schools; New York (2018 NY SB 7503/AB 9503) did the same through its budget process. New York’s budget also incentivized the benchmark by offering a higher school lunch reimbursement rate for districts that sourced 30 percent local food.
- Maine’s (2018 ME LD 1584) comprehensive local foods economy bill increased access and consumption of local foods by expanding use of SNAP funds at farmers markets.
- Oregon (2019 OR HB 2579) expanded the farm-to-school grant program. Michigan (2019 MI SB 927) expanded their 10 cents per meal program to reimburse schools for local food purchasing, and Hawaii (2021 HI SB 1316) has legislation to establish an agricultural production tax credit for growers who produce at least 50 percent of food crops for local consumption.
- There are also opportunities in local procurement policy to increase farmer equity, such as a 2021 Illinois bill (2021 IL HB 3089) that would have required that 20 percent of state-purchased food come from local socially disadvantaged farmers.
- In Oregon (2019 OR SB 727), legislators partnered with advocates to propose an appropriation of state funds to expand their Double Up Food Bucks program. Using COVID-19 as an impetus, Hawaii (2021 HI SB 512) expanded their Double Up Food Bucks program past the $10 matched limit; this is just one of many ways the program can be adapted.
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