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Green Bay’s New Leaf Market Co-op: Good for Farmers and Consumers

November 21, 2011

GREEN BAY, Wis. - As more and more people take an active role in the food they eat, a new enterprise in Green Bay is one of the success stories - even in these tough economic times. Lynn Walter is president of the board of the New Leaf Market Co-op. She supports local food for health reasons and because it's a win for farmers, consumers and more.

"It's also a win for the economy, because the local food economy circulates more dollars locally and enhances the tax value and the other aspects of the local food economy."

Before getting under way, New Leaf commissioned a market study. The results showed that if people bought just 15 percent more of their food locally, it would mean $156 million in new farm income.

"That market study seemed to indicate we were on the right track. Now I see it in practice in the farmers markets and the growth of CSAs and the people I know who have joined the co-op. We now have more than 400 people locally who have put their money down as an investment in a vision."

A bill now in front of Congress - the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act - would boost the local food industry. It would increase funding to help local farmers and ranchers and improve local access to healthy food. Walter hopes Congress passes the bill with the support of U.S. Congressman Reid Ribble (R-Dist. 8), who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, given the success of New Leaf in his district.

Support of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act is important not only to New Leaf, but for all Wisconsinites, Walter adds.

"Wisconsin is one of the centers of the local food economy and of growth in the local food economy - especially with our dairy industry, but also with the development of fruit and vegetable industries. I think the future, in terms of vegetable and fruit production, is in the Midwest, and I hope that Wisconsin will be a part of that future."

The Local Farms, Food, and Job Act (S. 1773, H.R. 3286) is part of the 2012 Farm Bill.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI