Local food advocates celebrate progress in Kansas, Missouri

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Healthy Food for All: Stories of Improving Access

UPDATE July 9, 2014:  Governor Nixon signed the Farm-to-School legislation in Senate Bill 701 and also in Senate Bill 672.

The Greater Kansas City Food Coalition held its spring luncheon themed Healthy Food for All: Stories of Improving Access on May 22. More than 75 stakeholders in our local food systems celebrated these policy achievements:

In Kansas

Kansas successfully passed Senate Bill 286, which creates a “Local Food and Farm Task Force.” The task force will prepare a plan to expand and support local food systems, as well as to increase locally grown food production and present it at the beginning of the 2015 Legislative Session for consideration.

In Missouri

Two bills made it more affordable to shop at farmers marketsin Missouri. These bills were truly agreed to and finally passed as Senate Bill 727.  The act allows for a sales and use tax exemption on farm products sold by participating persons with sales of less than $25,000.

The act also supports SNAP pilot programs in farmers markets in both rural and urban areas. Participants of the program will be able to purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and honey with SNAP benefits using an electronic benefit transfer card. They will receive a dollar-for-dollar match for every SNAP dollar spent at a participating farmers market in an amount up to $10 per week with purchases of fresh produce when using the EBT card. (Update: On June 11, Governor Nixon vetoed SB 727, which contained a farmers market sales tax exemption and the SNAP at farmers market pilot program.)

Missouri also passed the Farm to School Act (HB 2088, 2014). The act will establish a program with the Department of Agriculture to connect Missouri farmers with schools by including locally grown products in school lunches and snacks.

Federal Legislation

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), an unratified free trade agreement among 12 Pacific nations has been thoroughly stalled in the senate. As currently drafted, the TPP would threaten purchasing preference policies, such as our region’s farm to school and “buy local” programs.

The Child Nutrition Act, passed in 2010, will be up for reauthorization in 2015. The act houses funding and creates policy for the USDA’s programs such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and school nutrition programs. According to the USDA, one goal of the law was to help reduce childhood obesity and health risks for America’s children by helping schools produce balanced meals so children had access to healthy foods during the school day. USDA based the new school meal standards on independent, expert recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to ensure kids are being fed healthy food while they are at school

The Agricultural Act of 2014 was signed into law in February. More commonly known as the Farm Bill, it authorizes 80 percent of its funding for federal farm and food policies, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Farm Bill brings new programs to support SNAP at farmers markets, and new insurance subsidy programs for organic and specialty crops. Also, the Farm Bill increases the minimum variety of fresh and healthy foods in “retailer stocking requirements.” However, the bill leaves only six percent of its budget for funding for conservation.

For more in depth analysis of the Farm Bill, please view these sources:

2014 Farm Bill Drilldown: Local and Regional Food Systems, Healthy Food Access, and Rural Development , Natural Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Food Politics, Marion Nestle on the Farm Bill

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