Farm bill will help healthy initiatives

The U.S. Sen­ate and House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives have passed a $956.4 bil­lion farm bill that in­cludes money that Rep. Allyson Schwartz se­cured for a na­tion­al Healthy Food Fin­an­cing Ini­ti­at­ive to bring jobs and af­ford­able food re­tail op­tions to urb­an and rur­al com­munit­ies.

Last June, Schwartz in­tro­duced le­gis­la­tion that ul­ti­mately was in­cluded in the farm bill.

The pro­pos­al au­thor­izes spend­ing to con­tin­ue provid­ing start-up grants and af­ford­able loan fin­an­cing for eli­gible food re­tail­ers, farm­ers mar­kets and co­oper­at­ives that sell healthy food.

“The Healthy Food Fin­an­cial Ini­ti­at­ive will make an enorm­ous dif­fer­ence in the lives of thou­sands of Pennsylvani­ans and the 24 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans who don’t have ac­cess to healthy foods,” Schwartz said. “This pub­lic-private part­ner­ship will cre­ate sol­id, good-pay­ing jobs across Pennsylvania while boost­ing loc­al eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment and strength­en­ing our neigh­bor­hoods. By provid­ing health­i­er food re­tail op­tions in urb­an and rur­al areas, we can en­sure Pennsylvani­ans have the op­por­tun­ity to live longer, health­i­er lives and save bil­lions in health care costs na­tion­wide.”

Among those sup­port­ing the ad­di­tion­al fund­ing were the Phil­adelphia-based non­profit Food Trust, the Amer­ic­an Heart As­so­ci­ation, the Amer­ic­an Dia­betes As­so­ci­ation, the U.S. Con­fer­ence of May­ors and Jeff Brown, treas­urer of the Pennsylvania Food Mer­chants As­so­ci­ation and op­er­at­or of 11 Shop­Rite su­per­mar­kets in the Phil­adelphia area.

The farm bill passed the House by a vote of 251-166. It was op­posed by lib­er­als who dis­agreed with $8 bil­lion in food stamp cuts and con­ser­vat­ives who thought the bill in­cluded too much spend­ing. ••

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