The following excerpts are from an essay by Chellie Pingree which was published in the Winter/Spring 2011 issue of the Maine Policy Review, a newsletter from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. The issue focused on food systems in Maine.
“With many measures, Maine is going against national trends – our farmers are getting younger, the number of farms is growing and over half of Maine families reporting that they buy at a farmers market, stand or CSA often. And, they are doing so for all of the right reasons – to support their local farmers and economy, to get fresh food and a good price. All good practices for our economy, our health and our environment – and we should encourage even more of it!
As a matter of national policy, the time has come to acknowledge this new attitude. The time has also come to acknowledge that some of the agriculture practices, particularly those supported and practiced nationally, are bad for the environment and public health and have become unsustainable. Congress will reauthorize the Farm Bill in the next two years, and I believe it’s time to add a local food title and begin to rebuild a real food system in the United States.
A local foods title should make it easier for farmers to get their food to consumers. There is a lot that could be included in this – such as supporting infrastructure improvements like local slaughterhouses or creating and growing distribution networks.
Perhaps one of the most important goals of a revised Farm Bill would be to finally make it easier for schools to purchase and prepare real food in cafeterias — an incredibly fertile ground for changing food policy and eating habits.”
We are so fortunate that we have someone who is looking out for small farmers as our Representative and on the House Agriculture Committee.