PITTSBORO, N.C.–The draft farm bill was introduced by the House Agriculture Committee Chairman on April 12, 2018 and cuts funding vital to local and organic agricultural development. Many key programs such as the Value Added Producer Grant, the Farmers Market Promotion Program, the Local Food Promotion Program, and Organic Cost Share are allotted zero dollars in the bill. The vote on the draft farm bill is scheduled for Wednesday, April 18 at 10am.
Without the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, farmers will have a harder time growing their businesses by bringing in new sources of income. With the elimination of the National Organic Cost Share Program, smaller organic farms will lose support they may need to afford to be certified organic. Most certified organic farms in North and South Carolina utilize this program to become certified, and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association consistently promotes this program to our members.
Without the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, farmers markets and food hubs will lose critical investment. Many of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association members and partner organizations have used these funds to spur local farm growth and success in their regions. Bull City Cool Food Hub in Durham, NC utilized Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) funds to equip a food processing center for flash-frozen foods, promote local farmers and the food hub through outreach and education, and partnered with us to train farmers on food safety standards.
Neal Curran, Program Coordinator at Bull City Cool, reacted to the news of the elimination of LFPP. “Bull City Cool got off the ground quickly and smoothly because of LFPP support. Bull City Cool’s existence supports local farmers and food businesses as they fight tooth and nail to survive. De-funding programs like LFPP pulls the rug out from underneath efforts to build a better food system.”
The Swamp Café and Grocery in Greenville, SC received LFPP to expand their café and grocery operations by investing in storage and processing equipment for locally farmed products. The investment by LFPP has increased their ability to buy from local growers, and reach new customers.
Co-owner and Co-Founder of Swamp Rabbit, Mary Walsh says, “We buy local food from about 200 farmers each year and our ability to buy from farmers continues to increase. We owe much of this to the [LFPP] grant. The grant helped us market the grocery. We now have an average of 1,000 customers walk through our doors each day who are exposed to all of the great local food being produced in South Carolina. As a small business focusing on people over profits, this grant was critical in helping us fund the investments needed to make this happen.”
Swamp Rabbit received a second LFPP to open a butchery for local farms to have an area butchery option. James Bryant, Swamp Rabbit butcher, said, “Before Swamp Rabbit got the LFPP to start our butcher operation, the only option for our farmers was to sell their meat frozen and in packaging that wasn’t very marketable. With LFPP, we’ve seen increased demand from grocery and area restaurant customers. The LFPP-funded butchery is helping local farmers market their meats more and they’re getting more and more recognition and farm brand identity in the community.”
To put us back on track towards a better food future where local farmers feed healthy communities, and for farmers in North and South Carolina to continue to start and grow more farms with the needed infrastructure, marketing, and research investments that their businesses need in order to have outlets to sell their products, Congress must restore funding for these critical local food systems programs.
Find this post on CFSA’s site: https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/draft-farm-bill-cuts-programs
–Carolina Farm Stewardship Association