Casey Introduces Bill to Support Agriculture Jobs and Local Farms

GO FARM Act Would Help Connect Small Farms with Local Markets

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, today introduced legislation to create jobs in the agriculture industry by enhancing local food systems and encouraging production of food for local communities.

“Local farms are job creators in our communities,” said Senator Casey. “This bill will support small farms in Pennsylvania, which are an essential source of economic activity and are vital to getting healthy, local food from farm to table.”

The Growing Opportunities for Agriculture and Responding to Markets (GO FARM) Act of 2011 will authorize the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide low-interest loans to rural organizations, which will in turn make small, low-interest loans to producers who grow crops for local markets like schools, stores, and farmers markets.

In addition to supporting jobs in local agriculture, the GO FARM Act will help enhance the growing movement toward buying local products and ensure that local producers are supported.

"Senator Casey understands the needs of local farmers and consumers,” said Frank Mutnansky, Beef Farmer & Fayette County Cattleman Association President. “GO FARM starts to address those needs and brings both of them closer together to create jobs, preserve farms and farmland while improving access to locally grown, nutritious food at the same time.”

Senator Casey is a strong supporter of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry and believes small farms are a vital segment of the industry.

Senator Casey recently cosponsored the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act to bolster farm to table food systems. The bill is a comprehensive package of reforms that would help farmers and ranchers by addressing production, aggregation, marketing and distribution needs by improving crop insurance products available to small farmers, invest in infrastructure to enable local farms to aggregate and distribute their products and reduce barriers to institutional purchasing to better link small farms with schools, hospitals and other institutions.

Senator Casey also recently cosponsored the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Act, legislation to help beginning farmers and ranchers continue, start and build family farming and ranching operations. The bill would help beginning farmers and ranchers obtain education and training, necessary financial resources and credit, assistance for practicing sound conservation in their operations, and adequate income insurance and risk management.