With your help, last year Maryland created the Maryland Food for Maryland Institutions Study Group whose goal has been to increase the amount of locally grown food procured by Maryland institutions, providing more market opportunities for our local farming community. Out of that diverse network of stakeholders, came the idea to establish the two important initiatives outlined in HB1488/SB985:
- Certified Local Farmer Enterprise Program
This voluntary program allows state institutions to contact local farms that meet certain environmental standards. This will help build relationships between farms and institutions, like hospitals and schools, in an effort to better support our local farming community.
- Food Aggregation Grant Fund
The fund would support existing value-added food processing facilities in order to make it easier for smaller, local farms to get their produce to institutions in Maryland.
If established, this will not only provide more revenue for Maryland farmers, but it will help to:
- Strengthen local farm economies
- Provide local farmers with adequate tools they need to serve larger markets
- Preserve farmland
- Improve access to healthy, nutritious food
- Build local resiliency