NYSAC News magazine, Spring/Summer 2018

Page 26

Promoting Sustainable Local Food Systems Across New York State By Alex LaMonte, NYSAC Research Analyst

The State of Spending on Local Food

2018-19 Enacted Budget

ew York is a leading agricultural producer in the United States, ranking in the top ten in the production of 30 commodities. In fact, we are the second largest producer of apples, snap beans, and maple syrup in the nation; the third largest producer of cabbage, grapes, and dairy; and the fourth largest producer of pears. With the abundance of local food at our fingertips, it may surprise you to learn that only 10% of the $957 million that publicly-funded institutions in New York State spend on food is used to purchase products grown, raised, or manufactured in the state. What would the health, environmental, and economic impact be if we made a stronger commitment to buying and promoting local food?

N

The 2018-19 State Budget continues investment in New York State agriculture. Notably, the budget restores grant funding for local agriculture assistance programs, provides $1.1 million for Taste NY, and doubles the State’s investment in the Farm to School Program from $750,000 to $1.5 million. The budget also includes $10 million to increase the reimbursement schools receive for lunches from the current 5.9 cents per meal to 25 cents per meal for any district that purchases at least 30 percent of their ingredients from New York farmers, growers, producers, or processors. This investment in school lunches can expand market opportunities for farmers and help students to develop lifelong healthy eating habits.

State Action to Promote Local Food

USDA Farm to School Census

In recent years, the State has taken important steps to promote agricultural products grown in New York. In 2013, Governor Cuomo signed the Food Metrics Bill (S.4061/A.5102) into law to establish a framework for monitoring food spending by state agencies and track the origin of the food they procure. That same year, the Governor announced an initiative to promote New York’s food and beverage industries called Taste NY. This was followed by Buy NY in 2014, which aims to increase the purchase of local agriculture products in government-run institutions. In 2015, Governor announced the start of another new initiative: the NYS Farm to School Program. Farm to School was created to bring local, farm-fresh foods to students with the goal of strengthening local agriculture, improving student health, and promoting regional food systems awareness. Finally, in 2016, the State introduced NYS Grown & Certified to promote New York’s agricultural producers by labeling and marketing products grown and produced in the State. These actions have been accompanied by growing market demand for locally grown food in New York State and across the nation.

26

NYSAC News | Spring-Summer 2018