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Friday, November 16 , 2018, 5:41 pm | Haze Smoke 62º


Capps to Work at Organic Grower’s Booth at Santa Barbara Farmers Market

Congresswoman will promote her bill to protect organic foods and advance local farm policies

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Tuesday will join local grower B.D. Dautch at the Earthtrine Farms booth to work alongside his team of growers who sell locally grown, organic produce at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market. Capps will be at the booth from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday on Lower State Street.

Capps will also discuss bipartisan legislation she introduced earlier this year to provide the Agriculture Department with tools to safeguard the integrity of the USDA Organic seal and ensure consumer confidence in organic products. Currently, the USDA does not have this authority.

“As a Farmers Market regular, I know that consumers all over the Central Coast are demanding more access to locally grown food,” Capps said in a statement. “They know it’s good for their families and good for the local economy. I’m really looking forward to working at Earthtrine Farms’ booth and talking to folks about my efforts in Congress to support our agriculture industry.”

As the organic industry continues to grow, USDA’s inability to ensure products labeled “organic” comply with organic standards could potentially damage the brand of organic products. The Central Coast ranked second in California in 2009 organic farm sales, generating more than $224 million in revenue. The 23rd Congressional District ranks 30th nationally in the number of organic farms. According to a report by the Organic Trade Association, the U.S. organic market in 2011 surpassed $31 billion for the first time, representing 9.5 percent growth. The organic food industry also generated more than 500,000 American jobs in 2010.

Capps will also discuss the farm bill pending before Congress. The House Agriculture Committee recently approved legislation to set the nation’s farm policy for the next five years, and it contained a range of provisions supported by Capps that are designed to support and expand local farms and foods. For example, the legislation includes local food initiatives that allow schools to buy local foods for school lunches and provide electronic benefit card readers at farmers markets to increase access to local food for SNAP (food stamp) beneficiaries. Although the local farm and food provisions were a major accomplishment and a significant reform of national farm policy, Capps was disappointed the farm bill under consideration in the House of Representatives proposes significant cuts to SNAP benefits, as well as renewable energy and conservation programs. She will be working with her like-minded colleagues to amend those parts of the bill during the legislative process.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.


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