H.R. 3225 (112th): Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Oct 14, 2011 (Introduced).

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I

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 3225

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

October 14, 2011

(for herself, Mr. Ryan of Ohio, Ms. Moore, Ms. Norton, Ms. Richardson, Ms. Jackson Lee of Texas, and Mr. Jackson of Illinois) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture

A BILL

To promote and enhance community agricultural production and technology in nontraditional communities through the establishment of a new office in the Department of Agriculture to ensure that Department authorities are coordinated more effectively to encourage local agricultural production and increase the availability of fresh food in nontraditional communities, particularly underserved communities experiencing hunger, poor nutrition, obesity, and food insecurity, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings and purpose.

Sec. 3. Office of Community Agriculture.

Sec. 4. Community agriculture outreach program.

Sec. 5. Farmer-to-consumer direct marketing.

Sec. 6. Extension of and additional funding for seniors farmers’ market nutrition program.

Sec. 7. Community agriculture research and improved agricultural reporting.

2.

Findings and purpose

(a)

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

Dramatic economic, demographic, and land use changes in the United States have created areas where no supermarkets exist and where limited food choice and lack of affordable food prices impact large segments of the country’s population.

(2)

Demographic changes have opened pockets of arable land for agriculture in America’s cities.

(3)

Diversifying United States food production from a globally consolidated and industrial food chain to one which includes local production represents an important opportunity to strengthen United States agriculture.

(4)

With poverty rising due to chronic unemployment and with food becoming a more significant component of family budgets, local production becomes an important option for families facing food insecurity.

(5)

It is estimated that 18.5 percent of American households have refrained from making necessary food purchases due to economic circumstances, and many of these households reside in ethnically and racially diverse communities.

(6)

Food insecurity, epidemic levels of obesity, hypertension, diabetes and youth osteoporosis are caused by improper nutrition in food deserts without nutritious, reliable, and locally available healthy food options.

(7)

Advances in agricultural practices makes production possible in regions previously cordoned off from such opportunity.

(8)

With studies suggesting that much of the American west is becoming permanently more arid and 40 percent of all fresh water resources in the United States are used for irrigation, the need for more efficient food production and agriculture closer to point of consumption is critical.

(9)

Concentration in agricultural production and outsourcing have exacerbated the food insecurity of many communities.

(10)

In 2009, the Economic Research Service of the Department of Agriculture reported that 2.4 million households live more than a mile from a supermarket and do not have access to a motor vehicle.

(11)

Because these Americans are without access to a motor vehicle with which to reach supermarkets located more than a mile away from their homes, and there is no accessible local farm production, vast segments of communities are now described as food deserts.

(12)

The majority of youth in the United States have little knowledge of simple agricultural practices and the benefits of a diet that includes the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

(13)

Two million, two hundred four thousand, seven hundred ninety-two farms were in operation in 2007, including 300,000 new farms that began operations with smaller less consolidated operations and lower sales than the average of all farms nationwide.

(14)

Rising fuel costs make transporting food long distances significantly more expensive, but create opportunities for the economical production of food closer to point of consumption.

(15)

From 1999 to 2010, the value of imported food products to the United States increased over 100 percent from $40,700,000,000 to $86,100,000,000, which has led to a growing reliance on foreign-produced food, particularly during cold seasons, as diminished options exist for locally produced fresh and affordable choices.

(16)

Expanding production and access to locally produced food strengthens the vital link between healthy populations, sustainable living, and the natural world.

(17)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, direct and indirect medical costs associated with obesity and diabetes in the United States are more than $300 billion.

(18)

Expanding access to food for populations that suffer from shortages of nutritious food involves regional food production in communities where the link between daily life and the environment has been all but eliminated.

(19)

Many tools exist to empower communities toward local food production to break the cycle of food insecurity: For example, by the end of World War II, over 20,000,000 home gardens were supplying 40 percent of domestically consumed produce.

(20)

There was a 16-percent increase in the number of operating farmers markets in the United States between 2009 to 2010 according to the Agricultural Marketing Service of the Department of Agriculture.

(21)

Promoting the many different forms of agriculture, both consolidated, industrial agriculture and small scale, decentralized agriculture, is beneficial to serving many different needs in a diverse society.

(22)

In 2007, 247,772 farms harvested 39,259,592 acres of specialty crops and produced $67,417,397,000 worth of food products, which, if expanded to include production in food deserts across the country, has the potential to provide investment and improved nutrition to communities and reinvent landscapes that lack sufficient access to food.

(23)

In the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110–246), Congress provided the Department of Agriculture with sufficient flexibility in implementing certain programs to promote locally based agricultural enterprises, including a 5-percent set-aside for business and industry loan program for underserved communities, significant increases for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program that links local producers and consumers, an expanded authorization for the Farm to School Program, and new legal requirements allowing flexibility in local purchase by some nutrition programs.

(b)

Intent of Congress

It is the intent of Congress—

(1)

to establish and augment authorities to engage in local community agricultural production, combat food insecurity, and reduce the United States reliance on imported agricultural products;

(2)

to pursue better coordination to empower communities and their residents to engage in community agriculture, purchase and produce food locally, create sustainable food systems, and better connect the existing programs that can and should be used to alleviate pockets of hunger and severe food insecurity;

(3)

to work with the various State agencies responsible for administering the Federal nutrition programs on methods and strategies for using Federal food dollars to create local food production platforms and micro-enterprise development in areas where these nutrition programs are accessed; and

(4)

to develop a unified strategy toward greater self-sufficiency by using Federal nutrition programs as a tool for economic development in communities, even in regions that have not traditionally been centers for food production where human need is evident.

3.

Office of Community Agriculture

(a)

Establishment

The Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 is amended by inserting after section 220 (7 U.S.C. 6920) the following new section:

221.

Office of Community Agriculture

(a)

Establishment

The Secretary shall establish within the executive operations of the Department an office to be known as the Office of Community Agriculture.

(b)

Director

The Office of Community Agriculture shall be headed by a Director, to be appointed by the Secretary.

(c)

Purpose and responsibilities of office

(1)

Purpose

The Office of Community Agriculture is established for the purpose of coordinating activities throughout the Department of Agriculture related to promoting and enhancing agriculture in nontraditional communities and improving nutrition in such communities.

(2)

Specific responsibilities

The Office of Community Agriculture shall be responsible for coordinating Department activities and conducting oversight in the following mission areas:

(A)

Ensuring that Department authorities are used to promote and enhance agricultural production in nontraditional communities.

(B)

Ensuring that Department authorities are used to support educational and training initiatives related to best agricultural practices in nontraditional communities.

(C)

Ensuring that Department authorities are used to combat hunger, poor nutrition, obesity and food insecurity in nontraditional communities.

(D)

Ensuring that Department authorities are used to support eliminating shortages of affordable fresh food products in nontraditional communities.

(E)

Ensuring that Department authorities are used to support educational initiatives promoting the consumption of locally produced foods and the nutritional benefits of such foods.

(F)

Ensuring that Department authorities are used to strengthen local food systems and support sustainable food systems in nontraditional communities.

(G)

Ensuring that Department resources and programs provide sufficient consideration to the needs of low-income and high unemployment communities.

(H)

Ensuring that Federal nutrition assistance programs administered by State agencies maximize the impact of Federal funds to support promoting and enhancing agricultural production including consumption of locally produced foods in nontraditional communities.

(I)

Developing a strategy to ensure that Federal nutrition assistance programs (including those programs administered by State agencies) are used to support economic development and agricultural production in nontraditional communities.

(J)

Make policy recommendations to the Secretary without modification related to complying with subparagraphs (A) through (I).

(d)

Cooperation and coordination

The Director of the Office of Community Agriculture may assist or take the lead in coordinating cooperative efforts regarding any of the duties specified in subsection (c), including communication with other Federal agencies related to such duties.

(e)

Nontraditional community defined

In this section, the term nontraditional community means a community or area—

(1)

where there is limited or no agricultural production; and

(2)

that is not engaged in traditional agricultural production.

.

(b)

Conforming amendments

Section 296(b) of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (7 U.S.C. 7014(b)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (6)(C), by striking or at the end;

(2)

in paragraph (7), by striking the period at the end and inserting ; or; and

(3)

by inserting after paragraph (7) the following new paragraph:

(8)

the responsibility of the Secretary to establish in the Department the Office of Community Agriculture in accordance with section 226B.

.

(c)

Sufficiency of resources for office

Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Agriculture shall submit to Congress a report describing the resources and staff necessary to permit the Office of Community Agriculture established pursuant to section 221 of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994, as added by subsection (a), to carry out its responsibilities under such section.

4.

Community agriculture outreach program

(a)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Eligible entity

The term eligible entity means a community organization, municipality, institution of higher education, local school district, or nonprofit organization.

(2)

Nontraditional community

The term nontraditional community means a community or area where there is limited or no agricultural production and that is not engaged in traditional agricultural production.

(b)

Grants authorized

The Secretary of Agriculture may make a grant available for a 3-year period (in such annual amounts as the Secretary determines to be appropriate) to an eligible entity to support outreach activities for any of the following:

(1)

Initiatives, including responding to infrastructure needs, that encourage the production of local foods in nontraditional communities.

(2)

Initiatives, including responding to infrastructure needs, to strengthen local food distribution systems in nontraditional communities.

(3)

Initiatives, including responding to infrastructure needs, designed to create sustainable food systems in nontraditional communities.

(4)

Initiatives, including responding to infrastructure needs, that create or expand the opportunities to consume fresh fruits and vegetables in nontraditional communities.

(5)

Initiatives, including responding to infrastructure needs, that promote agricultural processing in nontraditional communities.

(6)

Initiatives, including responding to infrastructure needs, that encourage recipients of Federal and State domestic food assistance programs to purchase locally grown or produced foods in nontraditional communities.

(7)

Education and training related to best practices for agricultural production in nontraditional communities.

(8)

Education initiatives that promote the nutritional benefits of consuming locally produced foods in nontraditional communities.

(9)

The conversion, including purchase and acquisition, of vacant land to be used for agricultural production in nontraditional communities.

(10)

Other activities that promote economic development through agricultural production in nontraditional communities.

(c)

Grant limitation

The amount of a grant made under this section shall not exceed $500,000.

(d)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary $20,000,000 for fiscal year 2013 and each fiscal year thereafter to carry out this section.

5.

Farmer-to-consumer direct marketing

Section 6 of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976 (7 U.S.C. 3005) is amended to read as follows:

6.

Expansion of the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program

(a)

Loans, loan guarantees, and grants for farmers’ market expansion

In addition to assistance provided through the seniors farmers’ market nutrition program under section 4402 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 3007) to expand or aid in the expansion of domestic farmers’ markets, the Secretary of Agriculture shall make loans, provide loan guarantees, and make grants for—

(1)

the construction of new farmers’ markets;

(2)

the improvement or rehabilitation of existing farmers’ markets;

(3)

the acquisition of equipment for farmers’ markets and other infrastructure needs;

(4)

purchase, acquisition, and rehabilitation of land or property for use as a farmers’ market;

(5)

agri-tourism initiatives;

(6)

marketing and advertising;

(7)

transportation and delivery;

(8)

education and outreach and activities to encourage farmers’ markets participation in Federal and State food and nutrition assistance programs;

(9)

business development and management, including professional development;

(10)

establishing satellite locations of existing farmers’ markets designed to increase sales in areas not easily accessible through traditional transportation; and

(11)

planning and feasibility initiatives for new or expanding farmers’ markets.

(b)

Eligibility and priority

(1)

Eligibility

(A)

To be eligible to receive a loan, loan guarantee, or grant under subsection (a), the applicant must—

(i)

be a public agency, nonprofit organization, farmers’ market operator, or such other entity as the Secretary may authorize;

(ii)

demonstrate financial need, as determined by the Secretary; and

(iii)

commit to reserving at least 50 percent of the floor area of the farmers’ market for the sale of food products that are produced locally, as determined by the Secretary, by farmers, ranchers, or aquaculture, mariculture, or fisheries operators, or by associations of farmers, ranchers, or such operators.

(2)

Priority

For purposes of this section, the Secretary shall give priority to eligible entities located in areas where there is limited or no agricultural production and that are not engaged in traditional agricultural production.

(c)

Interest Rate

(1)

In general

A loan made by the Secretary under subsection (a) shall bear interest at the rate equivalent to the rate of interest charged on Treasury securities of comparable maturity on the date the loan is approved.

(2)

Duration

The interest rate for each loan will remain in effect for the term of the loan.

(d)

Funding

Of the funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Secretary shall make available to carry out this section $50,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2013 through 2018. At least 50 percent of the funds made available under this subsection shall be provided to eligible entities in the form of grants, and not more than $5,000,000 may be used to provide technical assistance and cover administrative costs.

.

6.

Extension of and additional funding for seniors farmers’ market nutrition program

(a)

Extension and funding

Section 4402(a) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 3007(a)) is amended to read as follows:

(a)

Establishment

The Secretary of Agriculture shall use funds available to the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out and expand a seniors farmers’ market nutrition program in the following amounts:

(1)

For fiscal year 2013, $25,000,000.

(2)

For fiscal year 2014, $50,000,000.

(3)

For fiscal year 2015, $75,000,000.

(4)

For each of fiscal years 2016 through 2018, $100,000,000.

.

(b)

Purposes

Section 4402(b)(1) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 3007(b)(1)) is amended—

(1)

by striking unprepared and inserting minimally processed; and

(2)

by striking and herbs and inserting herbs, and other locally produced farm products, as the Secretary considers appropriate,.

(c)

Administrative costs; unexpended funds

Section 4402 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 3007) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(h)

Administrative costs

Not more than 10 percent of the funds made available for a fiscal year under subsection (a) may be used to pay administrative costs incurred in carrying out this section.

(i)

Unexpended funds

To the extent the funds made available under subsection (a) for a fiscal year are not expended in that fiscal year, the Secretary shall use such funds in a subsequent fiscal year for the same purpose.

(j)

Priority

In providing funds made available under this section, the Secretary shall give priority to—

(1)

communities or areas where there is limited or no agricultural production and that are not engaged in traditional agricultural production; and

(2)

farmers’ markets that have an operational seniors farmers’ market program.

.

7.

Community agriculture research and improved agricultural reporting

(a)

Evaluation of farmers’ markets in census of agriculture

Section 2(a) of the Census of Agriculture Act of 1997 (7 U.S.C. 2204g(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(3)

Inclusion of farmers’ markets

Effective beginning with the first census of agriculture conducted after the date of the enactment of the Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act, the Secretary shall include as part of each census of agriculture—

(A)

an evaluation of the state of farmers’ markets in the United States, including information regarding the size, location, operational capacity, and geographic dispersion of farmers’ markets and types of food products sold (both in terms of product diversity and sales locations) through farmers’ markets; and

(B)

an analysis of the economic impact of farmers’ markets, including the success of Federal programs in promoting and supporting farmers’ markets.

.

(b)

Coordinated annual report on farmers’ markets

Beginning on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and each year thereafter, the Secretary of Agriculture shall submit to Congress and electronically publish a report on the status of farmers’ markets in the United States. Such report shall include with respect to farmers’ markets in the United States for each year, the following information:

(1)

The number of farmers’ markets.

(2)

The number of farmers’ markets established during such year except that for the first year a report is submitted under this section, the report shall include the number of farmers’ markets for the five years immediately preceding the first reporting year.

(3)

The economic value of an average farmers’ market.

(4)

The type of governmental assistance provided to farmers’ markets.

(5)

The products that are typically sold at farmers’ markets.

(6)

The number of farmers’ markets that accept as a form of payment benefits distributed through—

(A)

the supplemental nutrition assistance program established under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.);

(B)

the seniors farmers’ market nutrition program established under section 4402 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 3007);

(C)

the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children established under section 17 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1786); and

(D)

any other Federal or State nutrition assistance program as determined appropriate by the Secretary.

(7)

The methods through which farmers’ markets process the forms of payment described in paragraph (6).

(8)

The average income of a farmers’ market operator.

(9)

The average profit of a farmers’ market operator.

(10)

The average expense of a farmers’ market operator.

(11)

Other occupations of operators of farmers’ markets.

(12)

The percentage of food at farmers’ markets that is locally produced.

(13)

Any other information related to farmers’ markets in the United States that the Secretary determines is important to promote and enhance the use of farmers’ markets.

(c)

Report on award of contracts for food assistance

Beginning on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and each year thereafter, the Secretary of Agriculture shall submit a report to Congress describing—

(1)

how contracts are awarded for Federal food assistance programs, including the school lunch program under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.), the school breakfast program under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq.), the summer food service program for children under section 13 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1761), and other relevant food assistance programs; and

(2)

whether the food products made available under such contracts are locally grown or locally raised or processed.

(d)

Report on expenditures for domestic nutrition services

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and not later than 90 days after the end of each fiscal year thereafter, the Secretary of Agriculture shall submit a report to Congress (and make such report publicly available electronically) identifying the number of recipients and Federal and State dollars spent in the United States, and in each State, county, and congressional district, through all the domestic food assistance programs administered by the Department of Agriculture during the preceding fiscal year.

(e)

Report on status of agricultural production in nontraditional communities

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and not later than 90 days after the end of each fiscal year thereafter, the Secretary of Agriculture shall submit a report to Congress (and make such report publicly available electronically) on the status of agricultural production in nontraditional communities (as defined in section 4). At a minimum, the report shall include—

(1)

the percent of the Nation’s food production in nontraditional communities;

(2)

the economic value of agriculture in nontraditional communities;

(3)

the most popular type of agricultural activity in nontraditional communities;

(4)

the recent best practices on agricultural production in nontraditional communities;

(5)

the type of agricultural products marketed and sold in nontraditional communities;

(6)

the progress made strengthening local food systems in nontraditional communities;

(7)

an analysis of local government regulations, including zoning, that have supported or could support sustainable agricultural production in nontraditional communities; and

(8)

recommendations on how to further agricultural production in nontraditional communities.

(f)

Alternative submission requirement

If a report required by subsection (d) or (e) for a fiscal year is not submitted by the Secretary of Agriculture before the deadline specified in the subsection, the Director of the Office of Community Agriculture shall prepare and submit the report to Congress within 90 days after the deadline without modification by the Secretary.

(g)

Performance goals

The Secretary of Agriculture shall incorporate promoting and enhancing agricultural production in nontraditional communities (as defined in section 4) into Department of Agriculture performance goals pursuant to sections 1115 and 1116 of title 31 of the United States Code.

(h)

Community agriculture research initiative

(1)

The Secretary of Agriculture shall carry out a community agriculture research initiative that focuses on doing scientific research on the needs of promoting and enhancing agricultural production in nontraditional communities (as defined in section 4). Research should include, but not be limited to, improving production efficiency, production, and profitability, including—

(A)

marketing new innovations and technologies;

(B)

methods to protect production from pest and diseases;

(C)

methods to enhance food safety related to production; and

(D)

other areas deemed appropriate by the Secretary.

(2)

The Secretary shall submit a report to Congress (and make such report publicly available electronically) summarizing such research.

(3)

Of the funds available to the Commodity Credit Corporation, $20,000,000 shall be made available to carry out this section.