The Senate version of the Farm Bill “Lights the LAMP” by consolidating the Farmers Market Promotion Program, the Local Food Promotion Program, and the Value-Added Producer Grant program into the Local Agriculture Market Program, or LAMP. The program creates a one-stop-shop for farmers, agricultural organizations, and other stakeholders that are seeking support for local food projects. LiveWell strongly supports this consolidation as it ensures sustainable support for local and regional food systems with permanent funding so that these important programs will not be subject to the political winds of the every five-year Farm Bill negotiation.

Local and regional food systems, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), were an $8.7 billion market in 2015 and over 167,000 farmers across the country produced and sold food locally. The USDA predicts that local food will reach $20 billion in sales by 2019. The local and regional food industry has helped farmers support their local economies, preserve farmland, bridge urban and rural communities, and connect with consumers who are eager to learn more about food production. Efforts to feed Coloradans of all incomes fresh, healthy foods—straight from our own farmers—also rely on a sustainable local food system.  Initiatives like farm to school and Double Up Food Bucks would not be possible without the support for farmers, processing, and distribution of healthy, Colorado-grown products to communities that need them the most.

From 2014-2017, Colorado received $1.15 million dollars through the programs under the umbrella of LAMP. So, when asked to sign on to a national letter supporting LAMP, 39 Colorado organizations did just that—more than any other state in the nation. Colorado’s response to these “tiny but mighty” programs demonstrates that we understand the need for vibrant, diversified, sustainable local food systems and direct market operations that depend on funding and technical assistance provided through the LAMP programs. More information about this effort and the letter can be found here:  http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/lamp-farmbill-2018/.

The United States Congress is currently in negotiation over the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill and is trying to meet an end-of-September deadline. Ideally, the final version of the Farm Bill will “Light the Lamp” for Colorado agriculture and the continued development of local and regional food systems, which bring numerous benefits to our economy, our environment, and our residents.