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Clarke Promotes Farmers To Address Need In Urban Communities

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke (NY-11) member of the House Committee on Small Business, participated in a committee hearing today entitled, Family Farmer and Rural Small Business Priorities for the 2007 Farm Bill.  Although the 11th Congressional district does not contain any farms, Congresswoman Clarke is keenly aware of the nutritional value of fresh produce and how obtaining them in an urban setting is often a challenge.  Rep. Clarke made the following statement at today’s hearing:


“Thank you Madame Chair woman and ranking member Chabot for holding this hearing on the Farm Bill.  You and I both know that although our districts do not have any farmers who grow fruits and vegetables, we are eager consumers of their produce. 


Also, as you know Madame Chair, New York City has made great strides in maximizing accessibility to the Federal food stamp program for eligible New Yorkers, but many potentially eligible people have not yet enrolled.


We need policies that promote a food system that is more sympathetic to the health needs of underserved communities, including support for market incentives and institutional procurement policies that favor healthy food.  A seamless flow of fresh produce from our small farms to our urban consumers with a real meaningful sustainable expansion of the market place.


The 2007 Farm Bill should support an increase in food stamp benefits to help more poor and low-income families to buy healthy foods, improve outreach and efficiency in Food Stamp delivery as well as nutrition education. 


We must expand the scope and size of the USDA Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program to $60.5 million annual mandatory spending and add specific uses of fund in the following new program areas to meet the urgent need to supply healthy local foods to undeserved markets.


We must also expand Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs to 2002 authorized funding level of $25 million and authorize these farmers’ markets to be certified for WIC fruit and vegetable vendor status to give greater opportunities for seniors, nationally at-risk women and children to buy fresh local healthy produce.”


The witnesses at the hearing were members from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the National Farmer’s Union, the National Association of Wheat Growers, and the National Corn Growers Association.