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SB 278 (Crossover): Maryland Farms and Families Act

Position: SUPPORT

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

SB 278 establishes the Maryland Farms and Families Program and Fund in the Department of Agriculture to both double the purchasing power of food-insecure Maryland residents with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables and increase revenue for farmers through certain benefits at Maryland Farmers Markets. As amended, the legislation requires the Governor to include a $500,000 appropriation to the Fund in every fiscal year subject to the limitations of the State budget.

There is widespread information about the short-term and long-term health benefits of a balanced, healthy diet. Unfortunately, far too many Marylanders face food insecurity and a lack of healthy food options for themselves and their families. Programs such as SNAP, WIC, and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) go a long way in assisting those in need with meeting the basic need for food. The Conference supports programs, such as the Maryland Farms and Families Program, which aim to improve access to and the availability of healthy, affordable food. This program will be beneficial to: Marylanders who need greater access to healthy and affordable food, local economies, and local farmers markets.

Pope Francis said, “It is well known that present production is sufficient, and yet millions of persons continue to suffer and die from hunger, and this is a real scandal. We need, then, to find ways by which all may benefit from the fruits of the earth…because it is a question of justice, equality and respect for every human being.” Legislation such as SB 278 can go a long way in helping all Marylanders benefit from the fruits of the earth.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and urges you to support SB 278.