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Senate hearing on healthy and local food

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

At today’s hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee, devoted to Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production, and Nutrition, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) said:

Whether a Kansas farmer is growing wheat that will be made into bread in a Kansas bakery, or selling Georgia peaches to schools through a food hub in Atlanta, local food systems mean a win-win for agriculture and the local economy. And those are big wins: In Michigan we know that if every household spent just $10 spent on locally-grown food, we could put $40 million back into the economy. When we buy local, we support local jobs.

The growing demand for local food has also created great opportunities for young and beginning farmers. Through farmers markets and food hubs, new farmers are getting help marketing, aggregating and processing their products.

EWG nutritionist Dawn Undurraga was in attendance and offered this perspective:

An enthusiastic and energetic Chairwoman Stabenow addressed the hearing on locally produced, healthy food to a standing room only crowd.  It was hard not to feel impressed by the energy and turnout and the feeling that good food reforms had a voice in the deliberations on this farm bill.

Stabenow highlighted the growing demand for locally and regionally grown food.  "Local food systems are a win-win," she said, and local and regional food programs are a "small percentage of the farm bill, but they have a big impact."

Stabenow’s enthusiasm for local food production’s economic impact mirrors data released this week by the US Department of Agriculture’s Know Your Farmer Know Your Food program.

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Table Scraps:

-       The Union of Concerned Scientists is weighing in on the upcoming farm bill by making the case that “it should replace existing policies that subsidize junk food and encourage harmful farming practices with policies that prioritize healthy foods and farms.”

-       Grist’s food editor Twilight Greenway asks tough but hopeful questions about the future of local food in America.

-       Local food champion Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) will not run for that state’s open Senate seat.

-       On the issue of the conservation compact between taxpayers and farmers being debated in the upcoming farm bill, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s Ferd Hoefner had this to say to today’s Greenwire:

Nobody wants to see neighbors getting away with bad practices, cutting costs, cutting corners and polluting rivers and streams. We think it's high time that we renew that support for what Congress calls conservation compliance. It's really the basic social contract with the American people, that in return for various production supports that there's also an expectation that you're going to take care of the land.

-       Fat Boy, Thin Man author interviews Environmental Working Group analyst Kari Hamerschlag.

Tweet of the day:

? @ksfarmboy My blog seems to be going much farther than I ever expected. I made New York Times Dining and Wine nyti.ms/z0CHPc #humbling

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