LEICESTER — U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern stated Massachusetts farms that accept benefits courses are an important portion of battling food items insecurity all through his tour of a Leicester farm Thursday.
The Worcester Democrat visited Cotyledon Farm as component of his two-day tour of farms in his district, his 11th once-a-year farm tour.
McGovern also visited Growing Places in Leominster and Global Village in Grafton on Thursday. On Wednesday, McGovern toured farms in the western portion of his district, which has around 1,800 farms.
McGovern explained that the farms he toured took Electronic Added benefits Transfer (EBT) playing cards for payment from recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Support Plan (SNAP) and are concerned in the Massachusetts Healthy Incentives System (HIP), which places funds again in EBT playing cards when the receiver buys healthy meals.
“Fantastic food stuff shouldn’t just be available to people of implies. Very good meals should be accessible to all people. It can be a basic human ideal,” McGovern mentioned. “I appreciate coming to these farms simply because I admire the skill it requires to be a farmer — I would most likely final a minute-and-a-half on this farm ahead of I reported ‘enough.’ “
Applications these kinds of as SNAP and HIP help both citizens who require to get healthy food and farmers who get extra company from the programs, McGovern mentioned.
Winton Pitcoff, director of the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, mentioned that July was the very first month when income through HIP ended up around $1 million.
Amanda Barker, owner and operator of Cotyledon Farm, explained food financial institutions or foodstuff pantries will typically buy bulk food items wherever producers might get a lot less income than from a immediate invest in or a local community-supported agriculture (CSA) arrangement.
“Immediate-to-product sales is the very best attainable romantic relationship for the two the buyer and the producer,” Barker mentioned.
Cotyledon Farm is a 60-acre farm that specializes in blended vegetables and perennial herbs and primarily takes advantage of a CSA model.
Recognition of New England and Massachusetts agriculture in Washington, D.C., had grown above time, McGovern claimed.
As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, McGovern claimed that he has had to speak about the agricultural opportunities in the point out, and he would like to convey Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to Massachusetts to listen to from farmers about areas in which they really feel the federal packages want far more flexibility in addition to feasible new programs that better in good shape New England.
McGovern has also advocated for a new White House Conference on Food items, Nutrition, Hunger and Overall health, which he explained ought to include agriculture and farming.
Although McGovern explained the original 1969 conference manufactured progress on food items insecurity and produced initiatives this sort of as the Women, Infants, and Youngsters (WIC) system, he reported it experienced flaws that came from not bringing in a varied array of voices that should be addressed in a upcoming conference.
McGovern also spoke of wanting to not just include the U.S. Division of Agriculture in a convention, but every single federal agency such as the U.S. departments of transportation and strength as very well as farmers in the private sector and nonprofits.
“We want there to be a additional holistic view. We need to have to connect the dots. Simply because, rather frankly, the standing quo isn’t good adequate and there are too many people today in this state who are hungry,” McGovern explained. “It was not just due to the fact of the pandemic. Just before the pandemic, 37 million folks in this place were being hungry. We all should really be ashamed of that point and we could do a little something about it.”
Ashley Randle, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Agricultural Methods, stated that the condition has supported money for food items insecurity grant tasks.
Randle said that dollars secured infrastructure advancements for condition farmers these types of as refrigeration. Farmers have also acquired more assist than at any time right before from USDA systems in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.