Rep. Rodney Davis, member of the House Ag Committee, met with farmers and market managers from across the 13th district for a roundtable.
Pillars of central Illinois food scene, these diverse fruit, vegetable, and livestock producers have been feeding the 13th district delicious food and protecting our natural resources for a long time; including-Traci Barkley of Sola Gratia Farm, Kayla Graven of the Old Capitol Farmers Market, Pam and Bernie Hand– organic grain growers in Fillmore, Vicki Huelskoetter of Huelskoetter Pork, Kaitie Adams of Midwest Agroforestry Solutions, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery and Epiphany Farms.
These individuals shared stories of the most pressing issues facing farmers on the ground right now– being left out of pandemic relief, livestock processing bottlenecks, inability to accept SNAP online, loss of restaurant markets and sales, and climate change— as well as positive policy solutions to address these issues.
We asked for the Representative’s support on:
- Making sure that local farms and farmers markets are not left out of the next round of pandemic relief efforts, and that programs like the CFAP are workable for diversified farms. The current program is set up to support commodity producers, who are receiving direct payments, but not local food producers.This is simply about making sure the playing field is for all farmers, but especially the ones that are doing the extra hard work of providing healthy food to our communities, and keep wealth in our local economies.
- The Food Supply Protection Act, which will help farms and food system businesses retool during the pandemic, and will invest in local food infrastructure like processing, which will ease the processing bottlenecks and return wealth to rural areas.
- The Expanding SNAP Options Act so that farms and farmers markets can regain their SNAP customers, SNAP dollars can be invested locally, and so that SNAP customers once again have greater access to healthy local food.
- The Independent Restaurant Act so that farmers don’t lose this critical market
- The Agriculture Resilience Act, which puts farmers at the forefront of climate change solutions, rather than the cause of it, and gives farmers the tools and resources they need to be that solution.
The Alliance heard from farmers and from communities for a long time that our current agricultural system, with it’s focus on consolidation and global supply chains, is not serving them well, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the already existing issues with that system.
The silver lining is that we have have a moment in time, right now, to rethink the way we’re currently doing things and to put in place policies that will help get us to the food system that we all want– one that is diverse, resilient, and that builds the health and wealth of Illinois communities.
We are incredibly grateful to the Congressman for meeting with us and for listening.