U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on Wednesday announced new legislation to expand markets for farmers and increase the availability of nutritious, locally grown food. The bill would address production, aggregation, marketing and distribution needs and in particular help seniors and low-income families receiving SNAP benefits access fresh food. The bill aims to help farmers sell products directly to consumers and would therefore create jobs, the senator said. One of the provisions would expand the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program which serves more than 30,000 low-income seniors in 45 Ohio Counties.
The bill would also: Provide funding to help farmers build infrastructure-such as community kitchens-to process and sell their food locally; Break down barriers so schools can purchase local food more easily and provide schools with a local school credit to purchase local foods; Make it easier for food stamp recipients to spend their money at farmers markets by giving the farmers access to technology necessary to accept electronic benefits. It creates a pilot program to test smart phone technology to accept food stamp benefits at farmers market.; Provide incentives for SNAP participation to ensure that beneficiaries can participate in community supported agriculture programs; and, Create a new crop insurance program tailored to the needs of diversified and organic farmers who grow a wide variety of crops and can't easily access traditional crop insurance.