Last Friday, the New York State Legislature sent the Food Metrics Bill (S.4061 /A.5102) to Governor Cuomo to sign into law. This bill helps state agencies to buy more food grown in New York and requires agencies to track the geographic origin of food purchased with state funds.
What’s the Issue?
The growing, processing, buying and selling of food has traditionally formed the foundation of all economies and New York State is no different. New York’s farms, food processors and related businesses annually generate an estimated $47 billion in economic activity. Yet, New York continues to lose the farmland on which this industry depends on at an alarming rate. Over the last 25 years New York State has lost almost half a million acres of farmland, the equivalent of 4,500 farms, to suburban sprawl. How can we stop the loss of our state’s irreplaceable farmland?
One way to save farmland is to create more economic opportunities for our farmers. When farmers make a profit they are not under pressure to sell their land to real estate developers. New York State is a big customer and if state-run institutions that serve meals bought more food grown in New York that would add up to a lot of revenue for our state’s farmers. Institutions run by New York State – such as colleges, hospitals, schools, senior centers, emergency food providers and others – annually feed millions of New Yorkers. That’s a lot of food. However, the amount of food produced in New York that is being bought by state agencies is currently unknown.
What’s the Legislation?
The Food Metrics Bill (S. 4061/A. 5102), sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, which was passed by the state legislature last June, would lay the groundwork for state institutions to buy more food grown on farms in New York and require state agencies to annually report about state funds being spent on food and the geographic source of this food. Specifically the Food Metrics Bill directs New York’s Office of General Services and Department of Agriculture and Markets to develop guidelines for state agencies to increase purchasing of New York farm products. The legislation also requires the Office of General Services and Department of Agriculture and Markets to annually report to the Governor and State Legislature on food purchasing by state agencies including the type, dollar value and geographic origin of food provided under state purchasing contracts.
Please contact Governor Cuomo now and urge him to sign this important legislation encouraging state institutions to buy more food grown in New York into law. This will help save farmland by enabling our farmers to become more profitable while feeding healthy, nutritious, locally-grown food to people who need it–like students, hospital patients and senior citizens. The Food Metrics Bill just makes sense.