WHEREAS, Mayors recognize the many important benefits to cities from the farm and food policy and program support in the Farm Bill, including federal nutrition assistance programs, access to healthy foods for under-resourced communities, promoting environmental stewardship and conservation, and protecting our food supply; and
WHEREAS, there are major concerns about food and farming issues that affect the health of residents in urban America because of hunger and food insecurity in low income populations, lack of access to healthy food in low income areas, chronic diseases related to poor diet such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; and
WHEREAS, legislation is pending in Congress which proposes significant cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next 10 years – cuts which would eliminate or reduce benefits to every SNAP household and jeopardize the national economic recovery by removing billions of dollars from the economy; and
WHEREAS, the areas of our cities which have the highest rates of enrollment in federal nutrition assistance programs also have the least access to healthy food and the highest rates of obesity and diet- related diseases, which ultimately lead to significant health related costs at the federal and local levels; and
WHEREAS, approximately 90% of our nation's farms are owned by smaller scale farmers, and support of smaller scale farmers in a local food system provides economic benefits to each region; and
WHEREAS, Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Chellie Pingree have introduced the “Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act” to support local food system, which reflects sound public policy consistent with the intent of the original farm bill purpose; and
WHEREAS, there is a need for strategic focus through a lead point of contact with the US Department of Agriculture for the growing number of creative city-based initiatives which promote a healthy food system, ranging from urban agriculture and aquaculture, greenhouses, business incubators and programs to efforts to expand SNAP purchases at farmer's markets; and
WHEREAS, there are environmental and health concerns arising from production practices and distribution of agricultural products through an elaborate food supply transportation network which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and agricultural dependence on pesticides and chemically intensive production that contributes to soil degradation, air and water pollution, and dramatic losses of prime agricultural land in certain states due to urban sprawl, which threatens the preservation and protection of urban watersheds; and
WHEREAS, a strong agriculture conservation program in which city water utilities are full partners is critical to reducing the environmental impact of farming and to protecting watersheds and urban drinking water supplies, and;
WHEREAS, public/private partnerships can significantly improve access to healthy food as in a model program in Pennsylvania run by a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) and food access organization that used $30 million in state funds to leverage more than $160 million in additional resources to develop 88 healthy food retail projects, more than 5,000 jobs, and access to healthy food for more than 400,000 people, and;
WHEREAS, federal agencies- Treasury, HHS, and USDA are supporting successful efforts to improve access to healthy food through the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) and related programs.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors supports the promotion of access to healthy and affordable foods for all residents, including strengthening incentives and infrastructure to encourage more local fruit/vegetable production and distribution, environmentally sustainable farming practices, better access to fresh foods and investment in programs promoting healthy food, expansion of programs that help communities invest in retail markets, food-based businesses and increasing access to farmers markets, farm-to-cafeteria programs that bring the freshest, locally grown food into school lunch programs and other institutions; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports the promotion of food security in the Farm Bill by restoring and maintaining funding levels for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and other nutrition assistance programs including the restoration of the $14 billion that was cut from SNAP in 2010 to pay for other legislative priorities; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors opposes balancing the Federal budget by cutting needed funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and by restricting “Heat and Eat” policies that ensure that families do not need to make the impossible choice to pay for food or pay for energy, thereby asking only those less fortunate to make the necessary sacrifices; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports preserving and expanding existing USDA programs such as the Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program in schools, and programs that advocate for the increased use of Electronic Benefits
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United States Conference of Mayors supports the continued funding of HFFI and its inclusion in the reauthorization of the Farm Bill.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we support the establishment of an "Office of Urban Innovations in Agriculture" to help lend strategic focus to system innovations in cities across America and provide mayors and city officials with an information resource and ready access to assistance with the new and existing programs available at USDA, in the areas of urban agriculture and aquaculture, green roof and greenhouse production, and food system business incubation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the inclusion of provisions of the “Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act” that support and strengthen local food systems and increase access to healthy and affordable food especially in low-income and under-resourced communities; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to strengthen and expand agriculture conservation programs as a strategic investment in our country's agricultural infrastructure, including improving air and water quality and the protection of urban water sheds, to continue to require conservation practices as a condition of crop insurance or direct payments, and to sufficiently fund agriculture conservation programs and make water utility watershed management programs eligible for funding under the Partnerships and Cooperation Program; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports investments in infrastructure, entrepreneurship programs and facilities that process, distribute and develop value-added products using locally-grown commodities purchased from small and mid-sized local farmers including beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers , to meet the demand for local, healthy food, and that funding be preserved or increased for Specialty Crops.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the US Conference of Mayors supports passage of a Farm Bill, which incorporates the above stated goals and principles, before its current expiration of October 1, 2012.