The 2018 Farm Bill is moving into conference – a time when the House and Senate attempt to reconcile the differences in each of their drafts to pass a final, unified bill. When it comes to growing our nation’s local and regional food economies, the Senate version of the Farm Bill comes out as the clear winner. The Senate’s bill lights the way forward for a brighter food and farm future by including a $60-million-per-year investment in local food systems through the innovative Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP). We need to ensure LAMP makes it into the final Farm Bill.
This level of funding also ensures that LAMP would have permanent “baseline” funding, meaning that the critical food and farm provisions of LAMP will have the security of guaranteed funding for years to come.
LAMP is a new program that was formed from the combination of two existing local and regional food economy programs with strong track records of success, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and the Value-Added Producers Grant Program (VAPG). By combining FMLFPP and VAPG, LAMP leverages all the best pieces of each program while also increasing their combined funding to a high enough level to ensure permanent baseline.
So what exactly will this new program do? LAMP will help communities expand access to fresh nutritious food for consumers, increase the customer base for small and mid-size farmers, and provide an economic boost to struggling rural economies.
Additionally, LAMP includes a new public-private partnership provision to develop regional food economies and creates a new food safety program that will help farmers make needed upgrades to their practices and infrastructure.
LAMP will continue to support the activities and outcomes of VAPG, FMLFPP, and more:
- Domestic farmer’ markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities and other direct to consumer marketing practices;
- Local regional food business enterprises;
- Processing, aggregating, distributing and storing local and regional products;
- Business development and feasibility studies;
- Marketing strategies for value-added products in new and existing markets;
- Producer food safety infrastructure and practice upgrades;
- Producer food safety audits and certification; and
- Multi-stakeholder regional and food-shed planning, assessment and coordination
The House version of the Farm Bill does not include LAMP, nor does it include direct mandatory Farm Bill funds for FMLFPP or VAPG. The House bill also fails to create a farmer food safety cost share program, despite the urgent need to help farmers understand and comply with the new regulations of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Local and regional food economies are a light in the dark for struggling American producers, as well as for families in need of fresh, healthy food.
How to Get Involved:
Contact your members of Congress and ask them to be sure the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) receives permanent funding in the final Farm Bill.
Join the campaign at National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Food and Farming Organizations can sign on to this letter of support for LAMP today! Deadline to sign on is Monday, August 27 at 3pm Eastern.