By Sen. Sherrod Brown
I serve on two of the least partisan committees — the Agriculture Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee. It’s not a coincidence that those committees are also two of the most productive.
These committees are the places where we work together to actually get things done, like writing a Farm Bill every five years – and we always do it in a bipartisan way, and in a way that reflects what we’re hearing from Ohio farmers and Ohio communities.
Leading up to every Farm Bill, we hold roundtables all around the state to hear what Ohio farmers need.
In 2017 and 2018, at every event, I heard a similar message: Ohio farmers want to find new markets for their products, but they have trouble competing with big agriculture and connecting with Ohio families who want to buy fresh, locally grown food.
There is no reason Ohioans should have to buy apples from Washington or vegetables from Mexico, when they could get them from a farm in Ohio.
That is why I fought to include the Local FARMS Act in the 2018 Farm Bill, to make it easier for farmers to feed their communities and for consumers to buy local Ohio food and farm products.
We also created the LAMP program, which provides permanent funding to help farmers sell their products directly to consumers, create rural jobs, and invest in local and regional food economies.
As we write this year’s Farm Bill, our job now is to build on these efforts. We started the roundtables for this year’s farm bill last summer, and one of the things we’ve talked about is how these programs are working for Ohio farmers, what needs to be updated, and where we need more investment.
This week I introduced the Local Farms and Food Act, to build on our success in the last Farm Bill, and make sure that Ohio farmers have the tools and support they need to sell their products in their own communities.
I have always recognized the importance of producing more in Ohio – whether it’s cars, produce, beef, or flowers. And over the last few years, more and more people are starting to see how long and convoluted supply chains drive up prices and are vulnerable to disasters.
My bill will expand and improve USDA local and regional food systems grant programs to keep money where it belongs – here in our communities.
When people buy local Ohio food, we help create jobs and opportunity in the all the places that are too often overlooked in Washington and exploited by corporate America.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.