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LiveWell Colorado’s Farm Bill 2018 Platform

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Ensure the Farm Bill supports infrastructure for the entire seed-to-table food system, promotes the development of regional and local food systems, and prioritizes access to nutritious food with a focus on low-income communities and communities of color.

  • Support Structural Integrity of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    1. Support retaining the SNAP program within the Farm Bill
    2. Oppose SNAP block grants to states
    3. Oppose changes to SNAP access and/or work requirements
    4. Support funding for evidence-based, nutrition education programs
  • Support Healthy Food Access in Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color
    1. Support Healthy Food Incentives for Low-Income Populations
    2. Provide robust, permanent funding for fruit and vegetable incentives through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) grant program
    3. Create the Harvesting Health pilot program for Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Programs (Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act)
  • Expand the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (Local FARMS Act)
  1. Support Community Based Solutions to Food Access
    1. Continue the Community Food Projects grant program
  • Support Infrastructure Development for Local and Regional Food Systems and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers
    1. Support Healthy Food Incentives for Local Agriculture
      1. Provide robust, permanent funding for fruit and vegetable incentives through FINI
      2. Guarantee access to low- or no- cost technology for direct market farming operations to be able to accept SNAP benefits
  • Expand the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to include regional distribution
  1. Support Development of a Robust Regional Food Systems Infrastructure
    1. Create an Agricultural Market Development Program by consolidating existing programs and funding streams into a comprehensive program (Local FARMS Act)
      1. Implement permanent funding and increase technical assistance for programs that specifically address local and regional food systems including: Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, and the Value Added Producer Grants Program (Local FARMS Act)
    2. Implement Expand support for the 2501 program: Outreach for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers
    3. Clarify geographic preference for school food procurement (Local FARMS Act)

Support Structural Integrity of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Ensure the continuation of a robust and effective Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by maintaining its existing structural integrity. LWC supports four key components for ensuring SNAP structural integrity.

 Support Retaining the SNAP Program Within the Farm Bill

  1. The Farm Bill should be renamed the “Farm, Food and Nutrition, and Economics Bill” as the growing, distribution, purchase and consumption of food are inextricably linked. Addressing these issues together creates opportunities for comprehensive treatment of food and agricultural issues, as well as maximizing economic benefits.
  2. Nationally, of those households accessing SNAP, more than 68% have children, over 30% are households with seniors or persons with disabilities, and more than 44% are in working families. In 2017, SNAP provided more than 40 million Americans with food per month[1].
  3. SNAP maintains an extremely low fraud rate with less than 1% of benefits going to ineligible households[2].
  4. SNAP boosts economic activity, especially during economic downturns. Moody’s Analytics estimates that in a weak economy, every $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity[3].
  • Oppose SNAP Block Grants to States
  1. Block granting SNAP to the states negatively impacts SNAP’s primary obligation to provide adequate food to America’s low-income populations – including families with children, seniors, veterans, and the disabled.
  2. Fixed amount block grants eliminate SNAP’s capacity to respond to changes in poverty and unemployment during economic downturns, requiring states to cut benefits or limit eligibility to compensate for federal fund losses. Block grants also enable states to shift SNAP funds to other programs.
  • Oppose Changes to SNAP Access and/or Work Requirements
  1. SNAP qualification requirements already contain stringent asset and income tests, and SNAP’s current work requirements ensure people are either working or training for work.
  2. Nationally, children, working adults, and adults living with elderly or disabled dependents account for 81 percent of all SNAP participants[4], with 61.5 percent of SNAP recipients using the program for less than 3 years and just over 30 percent for less than 12 months.[5]
  • Support Funding Evidence-Based, Direct Nutrition Education Programs
  1. Evidence-based, direct nutrition education programs such as SNAP-Ed and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) contribute to SNAP’s effectiveness.
  2. Studies show that people exposed to direct nutrition education programs increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables and are more willing to purchase, prepare and eat healthier foods.[6]

SNAP In Colorado

  • In Colorado, as of March 2017, SNAP’s safety net reached up to 457,848 individuals or roughly 8% of the state’s population. Approximately 74% of those recipients were in families with children and roughly 25% have family members who are elderly or disabled[7].
  • Between 2009 and 2012, SNAP kept 117,000 people, including 55,000 children, out of poverty in Colorado[8].
  • Approximately 88% of SNAP recipients are in families where at least one family member is actively working and 44% of SNAP recipients live below the federal poverty line ($24,600 for a family of four)[9].
    • Colorado restricts program access for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) without a job and who are not participating in Colorado’s Employment and Training program, Employment First. This population is only eligible for three months of SNAP benefits every three years or are sanctioned for at least one month before requalifying. Colorado does have some exemptions to this provision for medical reasons, homelessness, and homes with juveniles[10].
  • Colorado’s Employment First program reaches approximately 30,000 Coloradans each year, operating in 46 of Colorado’s 64 counties and serving 88% of Colorado’s work registrants[11].
  • In 2016, total SNAP spending and related economic benefit in Colorado exceeded $728 million[12].
    • Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates nearly $9 of economic activity, some of which benefits Colorado producers[13].
  • SNAP’s structure enables it to be responsive to the economy by increasing caseloads during economic difficulties and decreasing caseloads as the economy recovers.
    • Colorado’s SNAP caseload was near 10% at the height of the recession in 2013 fell to 8.2% in April 2017, and continues to decline[14].
  • Community-based nutrition education works with families to support skills to buy, cook, and eat healthy foods.
    • Colorado received $4.3 million in SNAP-Ed funding for 2018[15].

Support Healthy Food Access in Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color

  • Support Healthy Food Incentives for Low-Income Populations
  1. Provide robust, permanent funding solely for fruit and vegetable incentives through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) grant program to improve the capacity of SNAP participants to purchase and consume fresh, healthy foods.
  2. Create the Harvesting Health pilot program for fruit and vegetable prescription programs (FVRx) for low income patients (local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act).
  3. Expand the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (local FARMS Act).
  • Support Community-Based Solutions to Food Access
    1. Continue the Community Food Projects grant program

Healthy Food Access in Colorado

  • SNAP Incentives funded by FINI – Double Up Food Bucks Program (DUFB)[16]:
  • Over 85% of DUFB participants report both buying and consuming more fruits and vegetables because of the incentive program.
  • Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Programs
    • For participants of these types of programs, the health benefits include weight loss, decreased blood pressure, and lowered A1C levels.
  • In one 12-week program in Colorado, 35% of participants experienced a decrease in BMI after participating, representing an average per person savings to the medical system of $14,000. Those savings occurred against the $240 cost of the fruit and vegetable prescription per individual for the entire 12 weeks.
  • Farmers have indicated that they benefit by securing a season-long customer that provides them with a steady source of income. Fruit and vegetable prescription programs also have the ability to boost the local economy when money for produce is spent with a farmer from the community.
  • Community Food Projects (CFP) Grant Program
    • CFP awards grants to local communities to develop community specific and comprehensive responses to local food access. CFP programs promote solutions driven by low-income community members that link local agriculture, school and community-based nutrition and garden education, healthy food retail and community development. The grants benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.
  • Since 1996, Community Food Projects Grant program has awarded $101 million dollars in 521 local food systems programs nationally.
  • Developing strong local and regional food systems throughout Colorado will be significantly improved through the continuation of this grant program enabling local Colorado communities to link various components of the food system together to improve healthy food access.

Support Infrastructure Development for Local and Regional Food Systems and

Socially Disadvantaged farmers

  • Support Healthy Food Incentives for Local Agriculture
  1. Provide robust, permanent funding solely for fruit and vegetable incentives through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) grant program ensuring the development of systemic connections between local producers, markets, and consumers.
  2. Guarantee access to low- or no- costs technology for direct market farming operations to be able to accept SNAP benefits
  3. Expand the Healthy Food Financing Incentive to include regional distribution.
  • Support Development of a Robust Regional Food System Infrastructure
    1. Create an Agricultural Market Development Program by consolidating existing programs and funding streams into a comprehensive program (Local FARMS Act)
      1. Implement permanent funding and increase technical assistance for programs that specifically address local and regional food systems including: Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, and the Value Added Producer Grants Program (Local FARMS Act).
  1. Expand support for the 2501 program: Outreach for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers
  2. Clarify geographic preference for school food procurement (Local FARMS Act)

Local and Regional Food Infrastructure in Colorado

  • Colorado Blueprint of Food and Agriculture
  • Developed in 2017 by stakeholders throughout the state; led by Colorado State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Research Centers, the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, CSU College of Agriculture, CSU Office of Engagement and Extension, Live Well Colorado, and the Colorado Food Policy Network.
  • Created a framework for Colorado Agriculture and Food System Sector future growth
  • Defined eight areas of opportunity with specific recommendations for each:
    • Creating and retaining agricultural and food firms;
    • Developing workforce and youth to support food and agricultural sectors;
    • Promoting Colorado brand and ensuring it reflects the unique qualities of the agriculture, food and beverage sectors;
    • Supporting a business- and consumer-friendly regulatory environment;
    • Addressing how scale impacts market performance, access, and opportunities;
    • Innovating and supporting new technology for food and agricultural businesses;
    • Improving access to capital for agriculture and food firms; and,
    • Integrating agriculture and healthy, vibrant communities.
  • SNAP Incentives funded by FINI – Colorado’s DUFB model[17]:
    • DUFB supports the direct sales infrastructure between Colorado producers and consumers, which improve profit rate for producers and consumers have better access to fresh, healthy food.
  • Close to $500,000 in SNAP plus incentives spent at participating markets or retailers since DUFB Colorado program started in July 2016.
  • The program is growing: in 2016, over 45 unique locations in 20 different counties offered DUFB; in 2017, over 100 unique locations in 28 different counties participated
  • Geographic Preference, School Food Procurement, and Farm to School
    • Clarifying the geographic preference for school food procurement will enable schools district to ensure that products that are “locally grown,” “locally raised,” and “locally caught” are approved specifications for school food procurement. Currently, schools can specify a geographic preference for unprocessed agricultural projects, but cannot require the purchased items be locally sourced.
  • Farm to school programs provide a significant financial opportunity to local farmers by opening doors to institutional procurement opportunities.
  • In FY13-16, 33 Colorado applicants requested over $2.5 million in FtS grants. However, the FtS program could only support 9 Colorado applicants with $742,000[18].
  • In Colorado, with school districts spending an average of only 4% of their food budget on local products, almost $18 million was spent on local food.
  • Several studies estimate that buying local food has a multiplier effect of 1.4-2.6 throughout the local economy; for $1 spent locally, another 40 cents to $1.60 of economic activity is generated[19].

[1] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Colorado Food Assistance Program. March 7, 2017. https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/snap_factsheet_colorado.pdf

[2] CBPP. SNAP Error Rates Remain Near All-Time Lows. July 6, 2015. https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/snap-error-rates-remain-near-all-time-lows

[3] CBPP. Colorado Food Assistance.

[4] USDA Food and Nutrition Service. SNAP: Employment and Training. November 2017.. https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/federal-jobs-training-programs

[5] United States Census Bureau. 21.3% of U.S. Population participates in Government Assistance Programs Each Month. May 28, 2015. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-97.html

[6] USDA, Food and Nutrition Service. SNAP Education and Evaluation Study (Wave II). August 16, 2016. https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-education-and-evaluation-study-wave-ii

[7] CBPP. Colorado Food Assistance.

[8] CBPP. Colorado Food Assistance.

[9] USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Profile of SNAP Households. January 2018. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/ops/Colorado.pdf

[10] Colorado Center on Law and Policy. http://cclponline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/RELEASE-Rule-change-good-news-for-Coloradans.pdf

[11] Colorado Employment First. http://coemploymentfirst.org/about-ef/

[12] CBPP. Colorado Food Assistance.

[13] Food Research and Action Center. The Positive Benefit of SNAP Benefits on Participants and Communities. http://frac.org/programs/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/positive-effect-snap-benefits-participants-communities

[14] CBPP. Interactive Map – SNAP caseloads. https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/interactive-map-snap-rose-to-meet-needs-but-participation-has-fallen-as

[15] USDA, Food and Nutrition Services. SNAP-Ed Funding Allocations. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/administration/funding-allocations

[16] LiveWell Colorado. DUFB Evaluation. 2016 and 2017.

[17] LiveWell Colorado. DUFB Evaluation. 2016 and 2017.

[18] National Farm to School Network.

[19] USDA. Farm to School Census. https://farmtoschoolcensus.fns.usda.gov/farm-school-works-stimulate-local-economies

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