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Bills Support Growth in Local Food Movement

Apple trees are starting to blossom at a community garden in Lansing. The Local Farmers, Food and Jobs Act would help small farms get surplus produce to food banks and farmer's markets. Photo credit, Rob South.
Apple trees are starting to blossom at a community garden in Lansing. The Local Farmers, Food and Jobs Act would help small farms get surplus produce to food banks and farmer's markets. Photo credit, Rob South.
May 3, 2013

LANSING, Mich. – Increasing interest in locally grown food is boosting agriculture's rating as Michigan's second largest economic driver.

And farmers would get more help in growing, marketing and delivering food under a pair of bills in Congress.

The Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act would make it easier for local producers to get grants and low interest loans.

Mark Coe with Lutz Farms in Manistee County says the legislation would help small farmers make more money.

"You don't need to be a hundred acre farm to be productive,” he says. “You can be a five or maybe 10 acre farm and grow a certain specific set of specialty products and it can be fairly profitable."

The Local Farmers, Food and Jobs Act also provides more support for programs that feed the elderly and poor. Supporters say it also could encourage younger people to consider farming as a career.

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, every two jobs created at a farmers market supports an additional job in another sector of the local economy.

Coe says smaller farms are popular in urban areas, where it can be expensive to buy farmable land. And he says people who start hobby gardens are moving their produce to market.

"People are becoming their own producers of their own produce and fruits and vegetables that they grow for themselves,” he says. “Plus then they end up being able to take the extra quantities of stuff that they grow and sell them at local farmers markets. And so it's really developing quite a culture of small farms."



Rob South, Public News Service - MI