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"Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) announced Monday she will introduce bail that would "significantly change the nation's food policy" by supporting local and regional farmers. The package of reforms and new programs, dubbed The Local Farm, Food, and Jobs Act, would encourage the production of local food by helping farmers and ranchers and by improving distribution systems, building on the success of farmers markets across the country. "This is about healthy local food and a healthy local economy. When consumers can buy affordable food grown locally, everyone wins," said Pingree, who owns an organic farm in North Haven, Maine. "It creates jobs on local farms and bolsters economic growth in rural communities."...According to Pingree's office the bill modifies nine of the 16 titles of the farm bill, including: Provide funding to help farmers build the infrastructure -- like slaughterhouses -- to process and sell their food locally; Require USDA to keep doing traditional seed research, not just on genetically modified seeds; Create a new crop insurance program tailored to the needs of organic farmers and diversified farmers who grow a wide variety of crops and can't easily access traditional crop insurance; Break down barriers for schools and institutions to procure local food more easily. Provide schools with a local school credit to purchase local foods, as well as fix out-dated federal policies that inhibit schools from purchasing local food; and, 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--that money goes right back into the local economy."

Posted October 25th, 2011