Meng and Upton Introduce Farm to Fridge Act to Strengthen Food Security During COVID-19

Jun 16, 2020
Press Release
Legislation would help farmers and merchants purchase machinery and marketing tools to ensure that families impacted by the coronavirus have access to locally- and regionally-produced agriculture
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Fred Upton (R-MI) announced today that they introduced the Farm to Fridge Act (H.R. 7035), a bill which would expand two existing programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to help farmers and merchants pivot from selling to restaurants to selling directly to consumers.
The legislation would allow the USDA to provide grants to farmers and merchants who have been impacted by COVID-19. It would authorize $20 million for the Value Added Producer Grants program for farmers to purchase equipment to expand their operations to sell directly-to-consumers; and $14 million for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program for farmers markets, food councils, and local governments to ensure families have access to locally- and regionally-produced agriculture. Both of these will ultimately add necessary capital to help both farmers and merchants close gaps in our supply chain, supplement income to farmers, and increase food access for families. The legislation also prioritizes the use of these grants on products that have been made in America.
“I introduced the Farm to Fridge Act to ensure farmers and merchants can secure new markets to sell their agricultural goods,” said Congresswoman Meng. “COVID-19 forced many restaurants to temporarily close which has affected farmers’ and merchants’ sales to these establishments. The national health crisis has also meant many families do not have access to healthy food at home. In introducing this legislation with Congressman Upton, I hope to strengthen food security, help farmers and merchants, and ensure that families have fresh food.”
“In this moment of uncertainty for so many, southwest Michigan’s agriculture community is a source of certainty,” said Congressman Upton. “They literally help feed the nation. Our bipartisan Farm to Fridge Act will help our farmers, producers, and ag community and ensure families continue to have access to healthy, affordable food.” 
"Small independent diversified farmers that have relied on local and regional markets have been struggling to remain profitable as they have had to make unplanned investments to transform their operations to replace lost farm-to-restaurant and farm-to-school sales,” said Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “Meanwhile, farmers markets across the country are also struggling financially as they have had to also change the way they provide food for consumers. The Farm to Fridge Act is an important part of the solution to save local farmers and farmers markets from financial ruin.” 
The Farm to Fridge Act, H.R. 7035, is endorsed by the National Producers of Milk Federation, New York Farm Bureau, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the Farmers Markets Coalition.