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June 06, 2012   Email to Friend 

Mary Johnson
June 06, 2012

Gov. Robert Bentley signs the Farm-to-School Procurement Act, sponsored by Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatom, in the Old House Chambers at the state Capitol. Pictured with Bentley, from left, are ALSDE Chief of Staff Dr. Craig Pouncey; Nick Zorn with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Alabama Farmers Federation Horticulture Commodity Director Mac Higginbotham; Beech; Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn; ALSDE Director of Child Nutrition Programs Dr. Perry Fulton; Federation Director of Agricultural Legislation David Cole; Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan; Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan; and Federation Assistant Director of Governmental and Agricultural Programs Brian Hardin.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. Surrounded by representatives from the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law a bill simplifying the process for schools buying food from local farms.

The new law, referred to as the Farm-to-School Procurement Act, allows school boards to buy up to $100,000 of products directly from farmers, including fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood.

Bill sponsor Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatom, said the legislation is a win-win for farmers and school children.

“It takes away a lot of those processed foods that (students) get and helps provide a very good nutritious product,” Chatom said. “I think this will be good for our farmers and increase their farming ability.”

Alabama Farmers Federation Horticulture; Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod; and Bee and Honey Divisions Director Mac Higginbotham said the law will have a positive impact on agriculture, education and the state economy.

“Schools now have an additional option in providing healthy foods grown by farmers within their local communities,” Higginbotham said. “The benefits of the act will go far beyond the farm and the classroom. This can keep dollars circulating in our state, providing an overall economic boost.”

ALSDE and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries will be responsible for informing school boards about their options and for implementing the program. The law will go into effect for the 2012-2013 school year.

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