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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Laura Zaks
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Tel. 347.563.6408Release: The EFFECTIVE Food Procurement Act Seeks to Increase Equity in USDA’s Food Purchases
Washington, DC, December 1, 2023 – Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC-12), Eleanor Norton(D-DC), Jahana Hayes (D-CT-05), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Nanette Barragan (D-CA-44), and Jim McGovern (D-MA-02) are set to introduce the Enabling Farmer, Foodworker, Environmental, and Climate Targets through Innovative, Values-aligned, and Equitable (EFFECTIVE) Food Procurement Act in both the House and the Senate.
The EFFECTIVE Food Procurement Act outlines a new, values-based approach for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to purchase commodities that supply child, senior, and community nutrition programs across the nation. The Act also directs USDA to target technical assistance and food safety investments for small and socially disadvantaged producers and businesses to ensure they have fair access to USDA contracts.
“USDA spends roughly $6 billion annually on food for nutrition programs nationwide. Despite USDA’s strong focus on fair markets and increasing opportunities for underserved producers, most procurement contracts are held by a small number of corporations largely due to pressure on USDA’s purchasing authority to consider cost above all else. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA demonstrated its ability to effectively purchase from a much wider variety of businesses. The EFFECTIVE Food Procurement Act provides a gradual approach for USDA to shift their commodity purchases away from a concentrated few to a more diverse range of producers and businesses that foster equitable, fair markets, worker well-being, and climate resiliency,” commented Hannah Quigley, Policy Specialist.
Specifically, the bill creates a pathway for USDA’s food purchases to support a just, healthy, and sustainable food system by:
- Outlining priorities for commodity food purchases that would increase purchases from
- Beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,
- Small or mid-sized operations, agricultural cooperatives, organic producers, producers with animal welfare certifications,
- Producers or suppliers utilizing practices that measurably reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resilience, and
- Vendors who participate in worker justice certifications or whose employees are unionized.
- Creating a pilot program that allows USDA to gradually shift its practices and evaluate their progress that includes:
- A new list of values-based evaluation criteria rather than lowest-cost when awarding contracts,
- Grants and technical assistance for food safety training, upgrades, or certifications for small or midsize, beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranches to ensure compliance and competitiveness, and
- A program evaluation and relevant report to Congress that measures the extent to which USDA food spending is meeting outlined priorities and recommendations to enhance supply chain transparency and create regional procurement models.
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: https://sustainableagriculture.net
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