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Visiting Wilton, Gillibrand praises new small-farm initiatives

Teresa Whalen of Warrensburg (left) talks with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Aug. 26, during the Senator's visit to a Wilton market, about initiatives that connect citizens with fresh local food. Gillibrand expressed support for the pending federal 'Local Farm, Food & Jobs Act' that is intended to boost family farms while providing communities with new access to local produce. Affiliated with Adirondack Harvest based in Essex County, Whalen has been organizing workplace distribution of fresh foods in the southern Adirondack region and advocating for sustainable local economies.

Teresa Whalen of Warrensburg (left) talks with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Aug. 26, during the Senator's visit to a Wilton market, about initiatives that connect citizens with fresh local food. Gillibrand expressed support for the pending federal 'Local Farm, Food & Jobs Act' that is intended to boost family farms while providing communities with new access to local produce. Affiliated with Adirondack Harvest based in Essex County, Whalen has been organizing workplace distribution of fresh foods in the southern Adirondack region and advocating for sustainable local economies. Photo by Thom Randall.

WILTON — In a visit to a local fresh-food supermarket April 26, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) expressed support for a pending farm bill that would aid smaller farm operations while boosting citizens’ access to nutritious locally-grown food.

Gillibrand talked about the proposed federal “Local Farm, Food & Jobs Act” during a visit to Wilton Mall’s Healthy Living Market & Cafe, which opened in late March. The enterprise, which occupies 34,000 square feet of space in the Wilton Mall, offers food from dozens of area farms. The supermarket is described by its management as a “health-focused and socially conscious market” by its management.

“Families are eager to buy fresh local produce and this bill help connects family farms with communities,” Gillibrand said. “By investing in local agriculture, we are investing in healthy economies and healthy communities.”

She continued that the measure would promote sustainable agriculture, expand access to credit and markets for area farmers, and increase access to local, affordable fresh produce.

The farm bill as now drafted would:

• allow SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps) to be redeemed at farms and Community Supported Agriculture operations;

• employ mobile technology for redeeming SNAP benefits at local food markets;

• provide $20 million in incentives for families on public assistance to buy fresh fruits and vegetables;

• allow small school districts to use federal money to purchase fresh local produce;

• double the money now allocated to develop community food projects;

• ensure that lenders provide credit to qualifying smaller local farms;

• extend insurance programs to address needs of smaller diversified farms that can’t now get coverage to meet their needs;

• provide for enhanced insurance coverage to organic crops;

• help organic farmers in meeting the costs of certification,

• provide new grant funding for food processors that create products using the fruits, vegetables and meat from local farmers;

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