Support Farmers and Combat Hunger By Purchasing Food Produced In-State
Small and mid-size family farms are essential to food production, are vital employers in rural areas, and the food they produce can healthfully help feed the states. Expanding tax credits for farmers to donate produce to food pantries and making it easier for state agencies to purchase from in-state farmers will support farmers’ bottom lines while leveraging in-state agriculture to fight hunger and increase access to healthy foods for everyone.
Family farmers and other small agricultural producers
Public health advocates
Large industrial farms
This act shall be known as the In-State Agriculture Fighting Hunger Act
To support in-state small and medium-sized family farms, as well as provide easier access to fresh farm produce to all state residents.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds that farms, especially small- and mid-size family farms as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture contribute to quality of life in state by generating economic opportunities, contributing to stable family businesses, and generating healthy, fresh food, and that leveraging the agriculture grown on such farms to fight hunger in state will support these farms and help get access to farm fresh food to people facing food insecurity.
(b) The COMMISSIONER shall establish and promote a local foods procurement program with the goal that no later than 2025, 20% of all food and food products procured by the state, state contractors, or other state institutions be local food or food products.
(c) To achieve this goal, when agricultural products are purchased by the state, state contractor, or by a school district that receives state money, agricultural products harvested in the state shall be purchased whenever priced no more than ten percent, or fifteen percent if harvested by a small or mid-sized family farm, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, above products harvested outside the state, are available and of like quality compared with agricultural products harvested outside the state.
-(i) A solicitation for the purchase of agricultural products shall specify the requirement that products harvested in the state by a small or mid-sized family farm, as defined by the USDA, shall be used where possible. If the state or a school district that receives state money purchases agricultural products harvested outside the state, the officer responsible for the purchase shall certify in writing the reasons that products harvested in the state were not purchased.
-(ii) State, state contractors, or school districts interested in procuring unprocessed agricultural products harvested in the state may use the simplified acquisition threshold set in 2 C.F.R. §200.88.
-(iii) DEPARTMENT shall, by regulation, establish additional procedures and an enforcement mechanism for this section.
(d) A taxpaying individual or corporation that is a grower of a crop and owns or runs a small or mid-sized family farm, as defined by the USDA, and that makes a qualified donation of a crop shall be allowed a credit against the taxes otherwise due under STATE LAW, as follows:
-(i) In the case of a qualified donation of salable goods the amount of the credit shall be ten percent of the value of the quantity of the crop donated computed at the wholesale market price.
-(ii) In the case of a qualified donation of non salable goods that is still usable and accepted by the donee, the amount of the credit shall be ten percent of the value of the quantity of the crop donated, computed at the wholesale market price that the grower would have received had the quantity of the crop been salable.
-(iii) This credit shall be available when crop donations are made to 501(c)(3) organizations or other types of organizations as promulgated by regulation. The Tax Department shall promulgate regulations to enact this section.
(e) To achieve the goal set out in subsection (a), there is hereby created in the DEPARTMENT [of Agriculture] the Office of Local Foods. The Office shall establish and promote a local foods procurement program managed by this office, with the goal that no later than 2025, 20% of all food and food products procured by state institutions be local food or food products. This office shall establish guidelines to assist state institutions to assess their ability to procure local foods or food products while minimizing costs for that procurement.
(f) These guidelines shall include goals of decreasing food scarcity in STATE by making local agricultural products available.
(g) This office shall work with and foster relationships between the agricultural industry, direct marketing organizations, food policy councils, public health groups, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, academic institutions, district agricultural associations, county, state, and federal agencies, and other organizations involved in promoting food access.
(h) The office, under the auspices of the department, shall do all of the following:
-(i) Work with regional and statewide stakeholders to identify communities that lack access to healthy food, determine current barriers to food access, and share information to encourage best practices.
-(ii) Coordinate with other local, state, and federal agencies to promote and increase awareness of programs that promote greater food access.
-(iii) Promote greater retail sale of healthy food in underserved communities, including at certified farmers’ markets, encouraging the development and sustainability of local policies that support urban agriculture, increasing the number and quality of food retail outlets in inner city and rural communities, and maximizing resources in the interest of increasing food access. The office shall improve access to local foods for recipients of benefits under any food supplement program by:
–(1) Expanding opportunities for farmers to sell local foods to recipients of food supplement program benefits by promoting the use of electronic benefits transfer cards at farmers’ markets and, in partnership with a statewide federation of farmers’ markets, encouraging participation in community supported agriculture by recipients of food supplement program benefits;
–(2) Assisting farmers’ markets in accepting payments through the electronic benefits transfer system by helping them secure equipment, including equipment that does not require the use of electricity, for processing payments through the electronic benefits transfer system;
–(3) In partnership with other relevant departments and agencies, educating recipients of food supplement program benefits of the opportunity to use the benefits at farmers’ markets and the advantages of such use; and
–(4) Identify opportunities for collaboration with community organizations, social services, and partner agencies to provide cooking and nutrition education classes to residents of underserved communities.
-(iv) Identify distribution barriers that affect limited food access, including, but not limited to, shortage of food retail outlets, limited store capacity, high distribution costs, and lack of capital funding opportunities, and work to overcome those barriers through the following:
–(1) Encouraging food hubs or other aggregation systems.
–(2) Coordinating institutional food procurement and buying practices.
–(3) Increasing access to information, technical assistance, and resources.
-(v) Identify opportunities and provide technical assistance for collaboration between farmers, regional and local food banks, partner agencies, and nonprofit charitable organizations in the gleaning, collection, and distribution of agricultural products for the purposes of reducing hunger and increasing access to healthy foods, and support tax credits available in subsection (b) of this act.
-(vi) Identify informational resources and organizations to provide technical assistance on small scale and backyard farming, community gardens, and other agricultural products for residents of underserved communities.
-(vii) Coordinate with school districts and representatives to do the following:
–(1) Provide tools to facilitate relationships between local producers and school food procurement personnel, and encourage opportunities to incorporate best purchasing practices such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification and insurance.
–(2) Increase the nutritional profile of foods provided in schools.
–(3) Increase access to nutrition education programs and information in schools.
-(viii) Provide education and outreach for the purpose of supporting local foods providers, such as farms, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture and seafood providers, to further the goal established in this section.
-(ix) Prioritize partnerships with small and mid-sized family-owned farms, as defined by the USDA.
-(x) Explore federal and nonprofit funding opportunities and partnerships to further the goals in this subsection and eliminate food insecurity in STATE.