National Farm to School Bill Emphasizing Farmers Introduced

Rep. McCollum introduced her National Farm to School bill today. This is the only bill that currently addresses both the farm - supply side of the F2S equation and the demand side by creating competitive grants for schools to implement the program. USDA is already implementing some of the farm-side activities, but this puts it into law, as well as directing USDA to do an economic assessment of the impacts of programs on farm economies and creating an internet exchange for best practices.

This can be seen as a companion effort to other Farm to School bills that contain the mandatory funding, with many of the same folks also cosponsoring this bill. This builds off the successful farm to school programs that have been done in St. Paul.

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What the National Farm to School Act does

The National Farm to School Act will provide the tools to connect school food service providers with producers in their areas to source local food efficiently and cost effectively.  The bill would:

* Create a USDA competitive matching grant program to support planning, implementation, training, and technical assistance for communities to implement farm to school programs;
* Direct USDA to conduct an assessment to identify existing USDA programs that can be used to facilitate participation of small and medium-sized farmers, ranchers and fisherman in farm-to-school programs;
* Direct USDA’s Economic Research Service to conduct an assessment of existing farm to school programs and the role which farm to school programs can play in establishing profitable new markets for small and medium-sized agricultural producers and facilitating access to other new institutional or direct markets and value-added processing opportunities;
* Authorize the Secretaries of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Human Services to establish a national internet-based farm to school exchange to facilitate sharing of information, best-practices, research and data on farm to school programs

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