Senator James Sanders Jr.'s legislation to create a task force on Improving urban and rural access to locally produced health foods (S1056) today passed the State Senate by a vote of 63-0 and the State Assembly by a vote of 149-0.
The Task Force is made up of eleven members and will have the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets as the Chair. Four members of the Task Force will be appointed by the governor, two members will be appointed by the temporary president of the senate, two members will be appointed by the speaker of the assembly, one member will be appointed by the minority leader of the senate, and one member will be appointed by the minority leader of the assembly.
The appointed members of such Task Force will be farmers, representatives of non-for-profit food access organizations, the grocery industry and economic development agencies serving county, New York State and New York City governments.
The Task Force will identify strategies and opportunities to expand access for underserved, nutritionally deficient urban and rural communities to healthy, locally produced food in New York State. The task force shall develop and identify new and innovative methods to increase the production, marketing and distribution of locally produced, fresh food in such communities in New York State. The Task Force shall report to he governor arid the legislature on its activities, findings, and recommendations.
"Farmers have long sought greater market access in New York City and other urban areas of the state," Senator Sanders said. "Similarly, residents of urban areas continually seek out access to low-cost, healthy and locally produced food from New York's farmers. The match between the two has never been effectively achieved through market forces or public policy initiatives. This bill marries these two efforts to form a strategy among industry and government leaders to identify opportunities and barriers to achieve this much needed linkage between farmers and millions of potential consumers of their products."