Senate passes legislation aimed at strengthening state’s local-food economy, protecting New York farms
Monday, June 17, 2013 - 9:12 am

The state Senate has passed legislation aimed at strengthening the state’s local-food economy and protecting New York farms.

The Food Metrics Bill, sponsored by Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton), had the support of a broad coalition of farming, conservation and environmental organizations.

That coalition also called on the Assembly to follow suit and approve the legislation that would require state agencies to establish a food purchasing, tracking and reporting system that will provide baseline data about money being spent on food and the geographic source of such food. The bill also lays the groundwork to encourage state institutions to buy more food grown on farms in New York.

Supporters said New York currently has no reliable data on the amount of food it purchases in- and out-of-state. A baseline to measure against will make it easier to scale up the consumption of local foods, which will be a boon to New York’s struggling agriculture industry.

The Food Metrics Bill mandates that state agencies establish a tracking and reporting program for all food they’re buying. It requires the Office of General Services and the Department of Agriculture and Markets to set guidelines for state agencies on increasing their purchase of local foods. Successful bidders on state food contracts would also have to provide the type, dollar value, and geographic origin of all their food to the procuring agency.