Where our food comes from matters — for our health, for the vitality of our communities, for our wallets, and for the environment. One of the Center for Rural Affairs’ goals is to connect the local people who grow and make food with the local people who eat it.
We work to bring together farmers and consumers through community food systems and farm to school projects, providing workshops, webinars, and technical support. We have long supported local foods as an economic development tool in rural communities, working with community leaders to build healthy, sustainable, local food systems.
Recently, the Local Food and Regional Market Supply Act (The Local FARMS Act) was introduced in both the Senate (S. 1947) and the House (H.R. 3941). Through an investment in programs and policies that spur economic development, the act prioritizes the development of new markets for farmers and expanded healthy food access for American families.
Findings from the Agricultural Census in 2007 and 2012 show that farmers who market food directly to consumers have a greater chance of remaining in business than similarly sized farms that market through traditional channels.
In 2015, more than 167,000 U.S. farms produced and sold food locally through food hubs and other intermediaries, direct farmer-to-consumer marketing, or direct farm to retail. Those sales resulted in $8.7 billion in revenue for local producers.
We stand with Congressional sponsors in calling for this critical investment in our food and farm future. The Local FARMS Act should be included in the 2018 farm bill.
Fox is a policy program associate with the Center for Rural Affairs