AFBF Delegates Adopt Cook County Farm Bureau Policy on Food Access
Voting delegates at American Farm Bureau Federation's 2023 Annual Meeting adopted nearly a dozen new policies- including measures on food security- submitted by Illinois Farm Bureau- and more specifically Cook County Farm Bureau’s members.
In December, Cook County Farm Bureau delegates advanced Illinois’ first food access policy. This policy was the direct result of grassroots policy making in which Cook County members concerned about the prevalence of food deserts within the county approached Governmental Affairs Committee and staff members regarding the need for policy supporting grocery stores in underserved areas.
The new nine-point policy approved by American Farm Bureau delegates supports a series of measures to combat food insecurity and food deserts, including:
- Tax incentives to locate grocery stores in underserved areas
- Increasing the number of SNAP-approved food sales outlets
- Food insecurity networks like food banks and produce carts
- Farmer cooperatives that help producers form marketing partnerships with food banks
- Farms connecting directly with food banks, food recovery organizations and other food distributing nonprofits
- Expanding the existing tax deduction for food donations to nonprofits.
It further includes support for programs to encourage healthy eating, food preparation and proper food storage and efforts to make produce available for families living in food deserts.
Speaking to the submittal from the delegate floor Illinois Farm Bureau District Director Keith Mussman explained how food insecurity is not exclusively an issue faced by urban communities.
"It's a rural problem too. Many of our local communities have lost their grocery stores," Mussman said, pointing to how his hometown of Grant Park went from hosting 1,000 residents and three grocery stores when he was younger to now having 2,000 residents and zero grocery stores.
"I think that this would be a tremendous benefit for everybody," Mussman said. "Our urban customers get a better supply of food and it will help our rural communities get a better supply of food and help all our Farm Bureau members producing food."
The policy passed unanimously, which Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert said, "just shows how important food access is not only in state of Illinois, but all across the United States."