Preserving Local Farms, Protecting Open Spaces, and Growing the Rhode Island Food Economy
Rhode Island is one of the nation’s leading states in the growth and development of small, local farms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent census found that the number of farms in Rhode Island increased nearly 45% between 2002 and 2012, from 858 farms to more than 1,220 farms averaging 56 acres in size.
The positive impact of these small and local farms is not limited to food production. Buying locally-produced foods helps boost the state’s economy, support local jobs, improve public health, and protect our environment. Local farms not only increase Rhode Islanders’ access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy products to support healthy eating, but they also help to preserve the beauty and character of Rhode Island’s open spaces.
Senator Reed has worked hard to promote policies that support small farmers, farmers’ markets, and local food systems. He has sought to increase access to local, nutritious, and sustainable Rhode Island-grown food, and to ensure that Rhode Island family farmers and their employees remain competitive and productive.
Senator Reed also believes that local family farmers deserve greater assistance. He has long advocated for saving taxpayers money and reducing the deficit by reining in federal farm subsidies for big agribusiness, while also making sure these subsidies are available to the small and medium-sized farms that need it most.
Key Priorities & Accomplishments
- Senator Reed is a cosponsor of the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, which strengthens efforts to support small farmers, invest in local and regional food systems, and give consumers better access to affordable, nutritious, and locally grown food through farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), and food hubs. The bill also includes provisions to help incentivize the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants at farmers markets and CSAs. Many of the provisions of this bill were included in the 2014 Farm Bill passed by Congress.
- Reed backed increased funding for Specialty Crop Block Grants to support research and promotion of fruits, vegetables, and other specialty agriculture like nursery crops. This federal funding has helped groups like Farm Fresh Rhode Island expand their reach. Reed has worked with Farm Fresh Rhode Island on initiatives like Market Mobile, which launched in 2009 and delivers locally grown produce to local chefs, grocers, hospitals, schools, and workplaces.
- For years, Reed has urged the FDA to restrict the use of antibiotics in farm animals and has cosponsored the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. Key proposals backed by Reed to help reduce the negative health impacts of antibiotic use in animals went into effect in 2013 as part of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action to phase out the use of certain antibiotics used to make food-producing animals grow.
- Through the Farm and Ranchland Preservation Program, Reed helped provide federal funding to protect Rhode Island’s local farms, including nearly $2.3 million to help preserve Payne Farm, one of the last significant tracts of unprotected land and one of the few working farms on Block Island.
Read more by visiting Senator Reed's Working for RI page.