State Legislative Action Alert: 'Local Farmers First' appropriations

February 08, 2019

Call your state legislators TODAY and ask them to prioritize the 'Local Farmers First' appropriations requests currently being considered by the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee.

These appropriations requests include funding support for: produce incentive programs such as Utah Double Up Food Bucks; a local food hub startup fund; a local food purchasing incentive to enable Utah schools to buy more food from Utah farmers; and more!

We encourage you to reach out to legislators on the committee* and ask them to please support the 'Local Farmers First' proposals, including the full requested amount for 'Utah Produce Incentives' (e.g. Double Up)See below for additional details.

Together these proposals represent a win-win-win for Utah Farmers, Families, and Local Economies.

Update: On Wednesday, February 20th at 4:00PM the subcommittee members will prioritize their funding requests (meeting details). Only requests that are prioritized will have a good chance of being considered for funding later in the session, so we are encouraging people to contact their legislators before Wednesday, February 20th at 4:00PM.

*How to contact your legislators

First, find out if your legislators are on the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee by clicking here or here. If they are, let them know you are a constituent and encourage them to prioritize the Local Farmers First requests.

If your legislators are not on the committee you can still ask them to reach out and encourage the committee members to prioritize the request.

If you don’t know who your legislators are you can find that information here:

Talking points

  • Please support each of the 'Local Farmers First' proposals, including the full requested amount for 'Utah Produce Incentives' (e.g. Double Up Food Bucks). These requests would be a win-win-win for Utah Farmers, Families, and Local Economies.
  • 97% of Utah’s produce needs are supplied by out of state sources. Local Farmers First incentivizes retailers, schools and consumers to purchase local foods and offers a way for farmers to meet the demand.
  • Produce incentive programs, like Double Up Food Bucks, increase low-income SNAP customers' access to healthy local foods, provide farmers with new customers and more income, and keep more food dollars circulating in the local economy.
    • An estimated $34 million per year is spent on fruits and vegetables by Utah SNAP customers. The overwhelming majority of that supports farmers outside of Utah. Utah Produce Incentives is a key component of Local Farmers First which presents an opportunity to redirect a substantial portion of these lost food dollars back to Utah farmers.
    • Utah Produce Incentives like Double Up currently benefit small to medium size farmers selling at 25 farmers markets and farm stands in 11 counties across Utah. This appropriation would grow the farmers market program  while expanding Double Up to grocery stores, benefiting medium to large size farmers as well.  
  • A local food aggregation and processing hub will expand Utah farmers' access to local markets by providing restaurant, schools, and grocery stores with a reliable supply of fresh, Utah-grown foods.
  • By giving schools extra funds to purchase locally grown foods for their meal programs, students will eat more farm-fresh foods, while local farmers and ranchers will gain greater access to some of the largest institutional buyers of food in the state.

More information

In 2017 the Utah State Legislature created the Local Food Advisory Council (LFAC) to develop ways to create vibrant local food economies, increase access to fresh local food, and support sustainable, vital agricultural operations throughout the state. In late 2018, working groups of the LFAC offered several proposals to achieve those goals. These proposals make up the Local Farmers First appropriations request. They include:

  • Utah Produce Incentives--on-going $400,000 in funds to support programs like Double Up Food Bucks that increase the buying power of low-income families and individuals who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. This request will help grow Double Up at Utah’s farmers markets and farm stands, and will help expand the program to grocery stores! It is estimated that the annual $400,000 investment will pump $626,500 a year into the state's economy.

  • Local Food Hub Start Up and Development Fund--one-time funding of $250,000 to start a grant fund to provide seed money to individuals or groups serious about starting a local food hub anywhere within Utah. Over time, one food hub could generate $12.8 million to the Utah economy a year and create more than 30 jobs.

  • Incentivizing Local Purchasing for School Meals--one-year pilot program, $250,000. Providing School Food Authorities a small incentive to buy local food has significantly increased the amount of local food in schools in other states that have tried similar programs. It's a win for school children, farmers and the Utah economy.

The LFAC co-chairs Representative Steve Handy (R) District 16, Layton, and Senator Gene Davis (D) District 3, South Salt Lake introduced their requests to Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee on February 7th. The requests will be prioritized by the committee on Wednesday, February 20 at 4:00PM. Between now and then committee members will consider and prioritize their funding requests. Only requests that are prioritized by the committee will have a chance to be considered for funding later in the legislative session.

Fact sheets

Local Farmers First - fact sheet (PDF - all requests combined) 
Utah Produce Incentive - request fact sheet (PDF)
Local Food Hub - request fact sheet (PDF)
Incentivizing Local Purchasing for School Meals - request fact sheet (PDF)

Image credit: LuAnn Hunt @luannhunt180 | Unsplash