Yesterday, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill that will make important first steps in harnessing the power of New York’s purchasing power to buy local food, which preserves farms, builds our local economies, and gets fresh, healthy food to more New Yorkers.
The Metrics Bill (Senate Bill 4061 and Assembly Bill 5102)—establishes guidelines to help agencies purchase more local food and requires them to report the geographic origin of any food they buy. The reporting requirement of this bill is critical because once we understand how much local food state agencies buy, we can set concrete targets and sustainability standards for state purchases of local food.
Government purchasers play an important as a reliable source of demand for growing industries—we’ve seen this before for recycled goods. In the case of local food, if farmers, processors, and distributors know there are steady markets for local products, they can invest, and grow their businesses—and our burgeoning regional food system. And sustainability standards are important to ensure that we grow our agricultural economy while protecting the environment and public health.
New York already has some programs to help encourage local food—Pride of New York and Taste NY are two great examples. However, to really put the needle more on local food, we need the state to put its significant purchasing power to work supporting local farms and catalyzing growth in our regional food systems.
A growing regional food system makes sense for all of us. When we buy local and sustainable food, we protect farmland, preserve precious natural resources (e.g. soil and water), help grow our economy, and provide fresh and healthy food to our families and communities.
We commend Governor Cuomo on this important step and look forward to continued work to build a sustainable regional food system in New York.