Senate votes to enact Vitelli local foods bill
AUGUSTA — On Wednesday, the Maine Senate voted 22-11 to enact a bill from Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, which promotes the purchasing of local foods in Maine by Maine institutions.
LD 1584, “An Act To Expand the Local Foods Economy by Promoting Local Foods Procurement”, sets aggressive goals in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry for the purchase and sale of local foods.
“In Maine, our local food economy is one of our strongest assets,” said Sen. Vitelli. “It only makes sense to do what we can to support our small farms, fisheries and rural communities by developing a local foods procurement program. By passing this legislation, lawmakers are making the necessary investments to ensure our local farms and fisheries can continue to power our coastal communities for years to come.”
The amended version of the bill sets a goal of increasing purchases of locally produced food and food products by state institutions 20 percent no later than 2025. It does so by charging the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to establish guidelines to assist state institutions in assessing their ability to purchase local foods while minimizing costs, providing education and outreach for the purpose of supporting farms, farmers’ markets, and community supported agriculture and seafood providers to increase the sale and purchase of local foods.
It also will expand access to local foods and farmers markets to SNAP beneficiaries and increase the amount of locally produced food served on University of Maine campuses.
LD 1584 received a unanimous report out of the Legislature’s Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry earlier this month. It will now head to the governor, who has 10 days to sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.