By Alicia LaPorte, Fair Farms Campaign Manager
I’m excited to share great news: While Gov. Hogan did not include the Farms and Families Program in his 2019 budget, the Maryland General Assembly included $200,000 for the program in the final budget that passed earlier this week!
We are now one step closer to having Maryland fund a proven program that matches purchases made by low-income Marylanders using federal nutrition assistance like SNAP (food stamps) at participating farmers markets. This program will directly support small farmers, food-insecure Marylanders, and our local economy.
The real MVPs of this win are people like YOU. Without the constant calls for funding from passionate advocates throughout the state and region, it is unlikely that we would have secured this funding. On behalf of the local farmers and low-income Marylanders who will directly benefit from this program, I thank you for all your support.
This great news is also due to the leadership of the Maryland Farmers Market Association, Crossroads Community Food Network, The Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, farmers, and local food proponents. We are incredibly grateful to Sen. Richard Madaleno for his leadership role on this issue in the budget discussions, and for legislative champions like Dels. Shelly Hettleman, Maggie McIntosh, Tawanna Gaines, and Sens. Mac Middleton, James DeGrange, and Ed Kasemeyer for agreeing that this program is a worthy investment.
While this is a tremendous step forward, it isn’t a done deal.
It may be hard to believe, but just because money is included in the budget by the General Assembly for a specific program doesn’t mean it will be spent. The Governor has to choose to spend these funds on the Farms and Families Program, or the money will actually revert back to our state’s general fund. You can ask Gov. Hogan to support this program by signing our petition.
We hope the Governor and the Dept. of Agriculture move quickly to get the Farms and Families Program in place for the next fiscal year, which starts this July. With your help, we will continue to ensure they do. Stay tuned!
For now, take a minute to celebrate your part in this exciting win.