Wholesome Wave understands the challenges and trends associated with developing a comprehensive agriculture, food, and nutrition system within the United States. Our leadership has been able to identify key policy options and their potential risks and implications, and outline strategic policy directions that position Wholesome Wave to impact agriculture, food, and nutrition policy more effectively. We have experienced many accomplishments and milestones across all levels of government.
The Farm Bill
Front and center in our work on federal policy is the Farm Bill. Last summer, the Senate passed a farm bill that reforms farm policy, consolidates and streamlines programs, and aims to reduce the deficit by $23.6 billion. On the other side, the House failed to take up the farm bill that was reported out by the House Agriculture Committee.
The two bills contained sections that are of particular interest to Wholesome Wave that would strengthen programs that increase the affordability of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables for SNAP consumers struggling to put fresh food on the family table.
While the various programs differed in detail in the two bills, each contained language supporting the underlying concept. A new program to provide nutrition incentives to increase fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP customers at farmers markets. The very popular Farmers Market Promotion Program was expanded to include “local food” and funding increased. Funding for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program – Maintained at $20 million annually for seniors living in poverty. Funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program was increased to $70 million. Innovations in SNAP by providing for use of EBT with smart phone technology and allowing benefits to be used to prepay shares of CSAs.
Federal and State Accomplishments
Wholesome Wave assists partners in applying for a variety of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants by providing grant proposal language and one-on-one grant preparation assistance as necessary.
For the federally funded, state administered Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) program, Wholesome Wave encouraged the USDA to consider the eligibility of infrastructure and staffing that support nutrition incentives at farmers markets and community supported agriculture organizations (CSAs), provided they promote the competitiveness of participating specialty crop producers.
States have the latitude to establish their own funding priorities. Wholesome Wave worked closely with several states that set goals around access and affordability. Last year, a dozen of our partners in 10 states successfully applied for SCBG, resulting in grants totaling approximately $700,000.
Funds from the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) have paid for EBT terminals and related infrastructure. In 2011, 17 organizations affiliated with Wholesome Wave secured $1.24 million in FMPP grants. Wholesome Wave provided direct technical assistance to five of the recipients, who received a total of $340,000 in grants.
Wholesome Wave worked with the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA in 2009 and 2010 on its regulations for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). The resulting change allows SNAP clients to benefit from nutrition incentives at farmers markets. This change has been the lynchpin for the proliferation of incentive programs around the country.
Wholesome Wave works with a growing number of city food policy advisors in the country to raise awareness and excitement for incentive programs at farmers markets. In the fall of 2010, 2011, and 2012 we sponsored three convenings for mayoral food policy advisors. The networking fostered by Wholesome Wave has resulted in exciting developments that have given voice to a powerful constituency in the food movement.
Ten big-city mayors, spearheaded by the office of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, weighed in on the Farm Bill debate in Congress by sending a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Agriculture Committees in the House and Senate. They stressed the “opportunity to promote food security and the health of our residents, while also fueling economic growth and protecting our environment.”
Wholesome Wave advised our D.C. based partners and the D.C. City Council as they worked to get nutrition incentive program funding in their 2013 budget. In June 2012, the D.C. City Council passed its Fiscal Year 2013 budget, which included $50,000 allocation to support expanding nutrition incentive programs at farmers markets in the District.
- Write your Senator today to fund critical stranded Farm Bill programs that support small farmers and sustainable agriculture
- Write your Congressperson today about the Farm Bill