The Mississippi Food Policy Council (MFPC) is pleased to announce the passage of House Bill 535, a key piece of legislation in the movement to provide Mississippians with access to healthy, farm fresh foods. This bill, which was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant yesterday, allows local county and municipal governments to donate money to farmers markets.
“The Mississippi Food Policy Council applauds Representative Toby Barker and Governor Bryant for taking another important step in ensuring that all Mississippians have access to healthy, locally grown food,” said Roy Mitchell, chair of the Mississippi Food Policy Council. “The Mississippi Food Policy Council’s focus is to always advocate for food and farm policies that build healthy communities, and this legislation is vital to advancing that mission.”
The bill, sponsored by Representative Toby Barker of Hattiesburg, was written based on several of the recommendations proposed by the Mississippi Food Policy Council during the meetings of the legislatively-created Healthy Foods Advisory Committee in 2011. “With the signing of HB 535, local communities will be more empowered to take ownership of the health of their communities,” said Barker. “I hope and expect that we will see more local certified farmers markets throughout the state. I appreciate the hard work of the MFPC and all the individuals who helped make this law a reality.”
According to the Harvard Law Mississippi Delta Project, in addition to farmers markets increasing access to healthy foods, the markets also keep food dollars in the state. Approximately 1.5 million a year is spent at farmers markets in Mississippi, and the farmers that benefit from these markets in turn support local businesses and keep money in the local economy.
“This is a win-win for Mississippi. Not only does it improve the health of Mississippians, but it also improves our state and local economies,” said Mitchell.