Markey’s “Buy Local” Amendment Adopted; Continues to Promote Local Agriculture
(BOSTON) – On Tuesday, the House of Representatives once again reaffirmed a commitment to local agriculture by passing legislation that continues to promote “Buy Local” efforts throughout the Commonwealth. State Representative Christopher M. Markey (D-Dartmouth) proposed the “Buy Local” amendment which was adopted as part of a consolidated Energy and Environmental Affairs amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. Consolidated amendment “E”, which passed on a voice vote, calls for funding of no less than $200,000 to be expended to enhance the buy local effort in southeastern, central, and northeastern Massachusetts, amending and increasing the House Ways and Means Department of Agriculture line item.
Representative Markey, who represents the Ninth Bristol District encompassing all of Dartmouth and parts of New Bedford, Freetown, and Lakeville and who filed the same amendment last year, stated, “buying locally-grown foods means money stays in the local economies. That equals real private sector jobs. It means fresher, safer and healthier foods, and lowering the carbon footprint from foods being trucked in from out-of-state.” During April 3rd’s Agriculture Day activities at the State House, legislators were provided updates on “Buy Local” initiatives funded by last year’s budget, and Representative Markey points to this transparency and accountability as a reason for the amendment’s great support. “The legislators in attendance got to know, above the anecdotal, that ‘Buy Local’ funding is making a substantial, measurable impact in the State”, added Markey.
Bridget Alexander Ferreira, Executive Director of the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP), credits “Buy Local” funding for helping to establish and promote programs like “Farm to Institution”, which increases and facilitates sales between local farms and institutions, such as colleges, hospitals and k-12 schools. “Buyers on this scale pre-purchase larger quantities from local farmers who in turn increase their production”, said Alexander Ferreira. She added, “increases in production may occur by utilizing land they already have access to but aren’t growing on, which not only expands our local foodshed but adds an additional revenue stream to participating farm businesses that currently sell direct-to-consumer only.”
Representative Paul Schmid of Westport, a member of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and an early cosponsor of the amendment, stated “’Buy Local’ is a positive, effective program that promotes healthy eating while supporting local farmers in local communities across the Commonwealth." In addition to Representative Schmid, the Buy Local amendment garnered 34 early cosponsors from all regions of the State and both parties, including SouthCoast legislators such as State Representatives Antonio Cabral and Robert Koczera of New Bedford, William Straus of Mattapoisett, Steven Howitt of Seekonk, and David Sullivan and Kevin Aguiar of Fall River.