Federal Food and Agriculture Bills
The News is beginning to expand coverage of national legislation. Bills listed below have links to PDFs for each.
Key Federal Farm to School Bills:
As Congress begins work on investments to create jobs and rebuild infrastructure, I urge you to work with Agriculture Committee leadership to support a robust investment into US Department of Agriculture (USDA) agroecological systems-based research, conservation programs, and conservation technical assistance in the next climate and infrastructure package.
The Agriculture Resilience Act (HR 2803/S 1337) and the Climate Stewardship Act (HR 2534/S 1072), support a robust investment into US Department of Agriculture (USDA) agroecological systems-based research, conservation programs, and conservation technical assistance in the next climate and infrastructure package.
Farm to School Act of 2021 (S. 1328, H.R. 1768)
Original Cosponsors: Sen. Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Brown (D-OH), and Sen. Collins (R-ME); Del. Plaskett (D-VI), Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE), and Rep. Adams (D-NC)
This bill triples funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, prioritizing applications that engage beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers and serve racially diverse and high-need student populations.
The popular Farm to School Grant Program has empowered thousands of children to learn about where their food comes from. Every dollar spent on local food generates up to an additional $2.16 in economic activity, indicating school districts’ local food purchases can lead to over $1 billion in local economic activity, according to the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census.
Kids Eat Local Act of 2021 (S. 1401, H.R. 2896)
Original Cosponsors: Sen. Brown (D-OH), Sen. Collins (R-ME); Rep Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Fortenberry (R-ME), Rep. Adams (D-NC), Rep. Harder (D-CA)
The Kids Eat Local Act will support farm to school efforts by making it easier for schools to source locally grown, locally raised and locally caught food and farm products for their meal programs.
Currently, schools are not able to specifically ask for “local” products in their food procurement requests. A geographic preference option is available, but many school food service providers find it burdensome and confusing to implement.
School Food Modernization Act of 2021 (S. 876)
Original Cosponsors: Sen. Collins (R-ME), Sen. Smith (D-MN)
This bill authorizes funding for schools to purchase equipment, improve kitchen infrastructure, and train staff to make it easier for schools to deliver healthy and fresh foods.
Even before the pandemic, the majority of schools report needing school kitchen infrastructure improvements. To ensure that schools can prepare healthy, nutritious and fresh foods, schools need additional funding to modernize their kitchen infrastructure.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is seeking comments on a Department-wide effort to improve and reimagine the supply chains for the production, processing and distribution of agricultural commodities and food products.
In addition to asking about the agricultural supply chain, USDA is interested in comments about how to target pandemic-related stimulus relief programs and spending authorized by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) toward long term, systemic change that results in food supply chain resiliency. In particular, the request for comment seeks input on—
- bolstering local and regional food systems,
- developing new market opportunities (including for value-added agriculture and products),
- creating fairer and more competitive markets,
- meeting the needs of the agricultural workforce,
- supporting and promoting consumers’ nutrition security, particularly for low-income populations,
- addressing the needs of socially disadvantaged and small to mid-sized producers, and
- advancing efforts in other ways to transform the food system.
S. 1421 Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act introduced by Senators Cory Booker and John Cornyn features:
- Provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a pilot grant program to create food and nutrition education positions in a range of rural, urban, and tribal schools.
- Food and nutrition educators will implement evidence-based practices proven to maximize students’ consumption—and enjoyment—of healthy meals.
- Priority will be given to schools in neighborhoods with high rates of childhood diet-related illnesses and schools in which 40 percent or more of students qualify for free or reduced price meals.
HR 7554, American Farmers, Food Banks, and Families Act
HR 5861: Agricullture Resilience Act.
HR 5845: Break Free from Plastic Pollutions Act
Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) introduced the Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (H.R. 8096), and it will help meet the needs of farmers who've been left out during the pandemic. Here are THREE big reasons to support this bill:
- It offers direct support for producers selling into local and regional markets based on the losses they've experienced.
- It prioritizes funding for BIPOC farmers and low-income communities of color and includes robust outreach, technical assistance, and data collection to ensure that aid is distributed equitably.
- It provides emergency response grants for farmers markets and local food enterprises to allow those operations to adapt to new market conditions, implement public health and safety protections, and further support communities experiencing food insecurity.