FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2020
CONTACT: Shelby Kalm, Fair Farms Campaign Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor Vetoes Farm to Institution Program
[Takoma Park, Md] — Governor Larry Hogan announced yesterday that he has vetoed legislation that requires increased spending – including the establishment of the Certified Local Farm Enterprise Program and Certified Local Farm Enterprise Food Aggregation Grant Fund – a voluntary program that would allow state institutions to contact local farms that meet certain eligibility standards and assistance for the creation of mobile, refrigerated trailers, and value-added food processing facilities.
“Given the struggles facing Maryland’s food system due to the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting local farms with local institutions and opening up new markets for Maryland farmers is now more important than ever. It’s disappointing that farmers are being left out.” said Shelby Kalm, Fair Farms Campaign Manager.
These two initiatives would have helped build relationships between farms and institutions, and would have made it easier for smaller, local farms to get their produce to institutions in Maryland. Local food procurement by state institutions, especially hospitals, allows its clients, staff, and patients to have improved access to healthier institutional meals that utilize fresh, nutrient-rich, local produce. It’s especially critical that hospitals have access to healthy, locally-grown, nutrient-dense food during this crisis. Food can have a profound impact on one’s immune system, and it’s important that we find ways to support this in our hospitals, whether it be our healthcare workers on the frontlines of this pandemic or those battling COVID-19.
In addition to providing much needed revenue for Maryland farmers during this pandemic, Farm to Institution programs such as this one strengthen Maryland’s local farm economy, provide local farmers with the tools needed to serve larger markets, preserve farmland, improve access to healthy, nutritious food, and build the resilience of our local economy which is critical during this economically challenging time. Had this program been in place just one month ago, farmers in Maryland could be using it now to expand their markets to fill current gaps in our food system, and to create new local, reliable markets during this time of shifting demand.
While Fair Farms will continue to fight for the establishment of this critical initiative during next year’s legislative session, we’re disheartened that the Governor has made this decision to leave out Maryland farmers during this challenging time.