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New VT Farm-to-Plate Law Lands National Spotlight

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Vermont leads the way, yet again. The national spotlight will soon fall on the new "Farm-to-Plate" initiative, which aims to strengthen the "Buy Local" movement in Vermont.

Several hundred politicians, funds, and policy experts around the country will be listening to two Vermont State Representatives on Mon., June 29 through a national webinar. The principal architects of Vermont's new law, Rep. Jason P. Lorber (D-Burlington), and Rep. Christopher Bray (D-New Haven) will share insights of how they developed their program, which leverages federal stimulus funds designed to create new jobs in Vermont.

"Farm-to-Plate is a prime example of how to stimulate the economy in a socially responsible way," said Lorber, who serves on the VT House Commerce & Economic Development Committee. "We designed Farm-to-Plate to not only spur the Buy Local movement and create jobs, but also to strengthen the environment and Vermont's farms and working landscape."

"While Vermont is a strong agricultural state, we still purchase 97% of our food from out of state at an annual cost of $2.6 billion," said Bray, who serves on the VT House Agriculture Committee. "As we rebuild our food system, we will not only keep more food dollars in Vermont and strengthen our farm economy, but because these dollars circulate locally, we will also strengthen our entire rural economy."

The Farm-to-Plate Initiative will bolster Vermont's local food system by quantifying market potential and pin-pointing critical bottlenecks, especially infrastructure needs and distribution systems. The Strategic Food System Plan, which will be one of the main deliverables from this initiative during its first year, will help determine where future investments should be made, thereby producing more jobs and agricultural economic activity.

"Buying whole local foods also delivers health benefits," continued Bray. "In the long run, the economic value of the health benefits to Vermonters may exceed the agricultural value."

The webinar is being coordinated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Leadership for Healthy Communities." This program focuses on increasing access to healthy foods and spurring economic investment.

The one-hour June 29, 2009 webinar at noon is open to all.

To craft and pass the Farm-to-Plate bill into law, Lorber and Bray worked with their respective committees, dozens of legislators, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Rural Vermont, Vermont Susatinable Jobs Fund, the Vermont Agenecy of Agriculture, Food and Markets, and other regional and state food groups throughout Vermont.



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