2014 Farm Bill Passes Senate
Sen. Stabenow praises inclusion of healthy food incentives for increasing access to healthy food, supporting farmers and local economies.
February 4, 2014 | ANN ARBOR, MI — Today’s passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) by the Senate delivers comprehensive legislation that supports the food security of millions of American families, provides a degree of certainty for thousands of farmers, and invests in the development of sustainable local and regional food systems. With both House and Senate passage, the bill now heads to President Obama for his signature.
We commend the leadership of Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), along with Ranking Members Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) for their commitment to securing a bi-partisan, five-year solution.
“While no Farm Bill is perfect, this bill continues support for critical programs and advances innovations that will support small and mid-scale farmers and help more low-income families access healthy and affordable foods in their communities,” said Dr. Oran Hesterman, President and CEO of Michigan-based Fair Food Network.
Specifically, the Farm Bill includes $100 million to support the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program, a new national healthy produce program modeled after successful efforts such as Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks. Double Up Food Bucks doubles the spending power of low-income Americans using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to purchase nutritious fruits and vegetables.
“The beauty of programs like the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive is that every federal dollar spent does double duty, providing a dollar in real nutrition assistance and a dollar in new farm sales,” said Hesterman. “In times of government cutbacks every federal dollars has to do more. This is a common sense approach that delivers health and economic development benefits all at once.”
The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program will establish “incentive grants” for projects that incentivize SNAP participants to purchase nutritious fruits and vegetables. The goal is to improve access to and affordability of healthy food for SNAP recipients and to test new methods and technologies to facilitate such purchases from a variety of sources, including direct-to-consumer markets. It provides $100 million in mandatory funding over five years and limits federal cost share to 50 percent.
“It is very impressive what Michigan’s Double Up Food Bucks program has accomplished in five short years. The work of Fair Food Network and its partners is a great example for the entire country,” said Michigan Senator and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. “The Farm Bill expands the reach of such efforts. By increasing support for programs like Double Up Food Bucks, the Farm Bill expands healthy food options for consumers, helps local family farmers and farmers markets, and boosts the entire state’s economy.”
Healthy Food Incentives—A Win for Families, Farmers, Local Economies
A recent national study of healthy food incentive programs found significant health and economic benefits of SNAP incentives. The study drew a sample from 132,000 SNAP customers and nearly 5,000 farmers taking advantage of incentive programs at more than 500 farmers markets in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Findings include:
- 96% of healthy food incentives were redeemed, demonstrating SNAP incentives’ success in rural and urban areas, and at small and large farmers markets.
- Almost 80% of SNAP shoppers reported buying and eating more fresh produce.
- 96% of farmers market managers reported increased business.
- Using an economic multiplier model, the study calculated that the SNAP incentives in just these markets generated upwards of $4.3 million in economic activity, saving or creating up to 47 jobs.
Double Up Food Bucks—The First Statewide Healthy Food Incentive Program
With a five year track record, Double Up Food Bucks provides comprehensive evaluation data demonstrating how healthy food incentives can meet the immediate food needs of low-income Americans with nutritious options, while also creating opportunities for small and mid-scale farmers, and stimulating local economic activity. Double Up Food Bucks evaluation findings include:
Healthier Choices for Families
- Since 2009, SNAP customers have bought 3 million pounds of healthy food because of the program.
- 95% of participating SNAP customers report buying more fruits, vegetables; 89% report buying less low nutrition, high fat snacks.
- 93% of customers report that the selection, quality, and prices of produce was better at the farmers markets compared to where they usually shop. A majority of shoppers (80%) found it easy to get to their local farmers markets.
- Double Up has stimulated a huge growth in SNAP use at farmers markets. By several measures, Michigan is among the top states in the nation for use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets.
Farmers & Local Economies Benefit
- In the past five years, Michigan farmers and vendors have earned more than $5 million because of Double Up Food Bucks.
- 85% of farmers report making more money as a result of the program.
Fair Food Network is a national nonprofit founded on the belief that vibrant local food systems can create health and economic opportunity for all. Fair Food Network works with a diverse network of partners and pioneers solutions that increase access to healthy food especially in our most underserved communities, support farmers, and stimulate economic activity. Headquartered in Michigan, our programs create on-the-ground impact, serve as replicable models, and spur public policy change. Dig deeper at fairfoodnetwork.org and join us on Facebook and Twitter @FairFoodNetwork and @OHesterman.
"Healthy incentives are farm bill bright spot," Dr. Oran Hesterman, The Hill
Healthy Food Incentives National Cluster Evaluation Final Report
Double Up Food Bucks 2012 Evaluation Report