WAMU 88.5 : News

Advocates Seek Continued Funding For Farmers' Markets

Play associated audio
Farmers market advocates are calling on Congress to continue funding for grants such as the Farmers Market Promotion Program. The program has supported efforts to bring food stamps to area markets, including Crossroads in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Jessica Gould
Farmers market advocates are calling on Congress to continue funding for grants such as the Farmers Market Promotion Program. The program has supported efforts to bring food stamps to area markets, including Crossroads in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Advocates for farmers markets say locally-sourced fruits and vegetables aren't just adding flavor to our refrigerators, they also spice up our economy. But supporters worry federal grants for farmers markets could soon disappear.

Ian Barclay's white hair dips below his shoulders, and his memory is just as long as his snowy locks.

"I grew up here, so I can remember when up country Montgomery County used to be lots of farms. And there's very few left," he says.

So these days, when Barclay wants a ripe tomato or crispy cucumber, he heads to the Crossroads Farmers' Market in Takoma Park.

"It's fresher and just finger lickin' good, too," he says.

When Barclay finds something that looks tasty, he hands a small, plastic card to a vendor.

"You just swipe the thing, and then through satellite or cell phone technology I guess, it confirms that you are indeed who you are and it helps me get something to eat," he says.

Barclay receives food stamps, and that little piece of technology allows him to shop at Crossroads.

"Anyway you can stretch your dollar is good to me," he says.

Those little machines come with big price tags, however, according to Jeffrey O'Hara, an economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "These are community grassroots organizations. They don't necessarily have the budget or means to buy the right equipment," he says.

O'Hara wrote a report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists earlier this month that found that modest federal investment in farmers markets could provide hundreds of jobs.

The idea of subsidies for farmers markets isn't new. In the past, the federal government has shouldered some of the costs of the food stamp swipe devices through grants such as the Farmers' Market Promotion Program.

"These types of grants are given to help set up farmers' markets and help lower-income citizens redeem benefits at farmers' markets," O'Hara says.

But now, he's worried that support for these programs is about to dry up.

"Under Congressional budgeting these programs are going to disappear, and our concern is, given the language in Congress, that they're going to go away completely," he says.

The country may be on a financial diet, O'Hara adds, but it shouldn't cut out fresh fruits and vegetables.

NPR

'Star Wars' Editors Defy Hollywood Conventions

In a film industry often dominated by men, there's at least one exception: Many editors are women. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey speak about their work on the new Star Wars.
NPR

Florida Says Its Fruits, Vegetables Are Safe From Invasive Fruit Fly

Since September, Florida has been fighting an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that threatened more than 400 crops. The state declared the insect eradicated as of Saturday.
NPR

7 Things To Know About Presidential Appointments To The Supreme Court

Republicans are adamant they will stop anyone President Obama names to replace for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. It's possible Obama's nominee would face the longest wait in history for a vote.
NPR

West Point Students' Plan To Counter ISIS Online Strategy

The State Department sponsored a contest to find the best ways to combat ISIS propaganda online. A group of cadets from West Point got second prize. Rachel Martin speaks with team member CJ Drew.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.