House Ag Subcommittee Chairs Costa, Fudge, Plaskett Introduce Legislation to Better Connect Farmers, Food Banks

May 8, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – House Agriculture Subcommittee Chairs Jim Costa (CA-16), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), and Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands, unveiled legislation Friday that will help streamline the donation of food by farmers to food banks across the country as it confronts growing hunger related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Farm to Food Bank Enhancement Act would provide $25 million for states to expand or establish new Farm to Food bank projects as part of The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP. The federal funding would be used to cover up to 100 percent of harvesting, processing, packaging, and transportation costs for covered commodities. 

“California farmers and foodbanks have already proven this model works,” said Rep. Costa. “As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, I know our fruit, vegetable, dairy, livestock, and poultry farmers have lost markets for their products, and this bill will help get some of what they produce to the people who need it more than ever right now.” 

“At the same time millions of hungry Americans are lining up at food banks as a result of the pandemic,  many of our nation’s farmers and agriculture producers are seeing their demand disappear and are having to destroy millions of pounds of fresh food,” said Rep. Fudge, who chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. “Our bill will help to connect those two important parts of the emergency response, making great strides toward preventing food waste and fighting hunger that is reaching new, unprecedented highs.”   

“This legislation is a step in the right direction for both our farmers and our food-insecure families. As Chair of the Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee, I am committed to ensuring that we support specialty crop farmers during this difficult time and better connect families in need more quickly with nutritious fruits and vegetables,” added Rep. Plaskett

“We are thrilled to endorse the Farm to Food Bank Enhancement Act that will a deliver triple win for California,” said Andrew Cheyne, director of government affairs for the California Association of Food Banks. “This bill provides a real solution to support our farmers, prevents food from going to waste, and gets it to people in need. At a time of record demand at food banks, this is exactly the common sense response we need to respond to several aspects of this crisis at once.” 

Other supporting organizations include the California Farm Bureau Federation, Central California Food Bank, Western Growers, California Fresh Fruit Association, International Dairy Foods Association, and the National Milk Producers Federation. 

This is one part of a broader framework Rep. Costa is working on to support CA agriculture through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A summary of the legislation is available here.