Washington State Congresswomen Kim Schrier, M.D. and Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced bipartisan legislation today to provide additional funding to purchase surplus crops from small and medium farmers.
The Farmers Feeding Families Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6725) would provide funding for state agencies and partnering food-banks to replenish their food stocks to meet increased demand spiked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The legislation would also employ a targeted approach to distributing federal funding to buy food from producers who rely on local agricultural markets—such as farmers’ markets, farm-to-table restaurants and farm-to-school programs.
Supply chains are disrupted, and our farmers and food producers are hurting. Small scale farms who supply food to local restaurants, farmers markets, and schools no longer have markets and food products have nowhere to go,” said Rep. Schrier. “At the same time, food banks and food assistance programs across the country are having difficulty keeping up with new needs created by the coronavirus pandemic. It makes sense to bridge this divide and put these two together to make sure that we support our family farms while also feeding our communities.”
Another essential component of the legislation involves allowing states to purchase surplus perishable foods at risk of going to waste.
Washington farmers help provide food security to Washington state and the world, but right now, they are struggling with oversupply due to the loss of food service and other markets,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “Local leaders are going to know best how to help our struggling farmers and meet an important need at our food banks. We need to direct food purchasing funding to the state so they can be strategic in these efforts, and that’s what this legislation will do.”
The legislation is supported by several groups in and outside Washington State, including Feeding America, Northwest Harvest, Washington State Farm Bureau, Washington State Potato Commission, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Schrier, a Democrat, and McMorris Rogers, a Republican, previously worked together this fall along with Republican Washington Congressman Dan Newhouse on the the Farm Workforce Modernization Act which passed the House and was referred to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.
A companion bill is being introduced in the upper chamber by Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
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