Message from the Chair:
The New York State Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy was first established by the Speaker of the Assembly in the mid 1970s to develop State policies to strengthen our local food system to the benefit of farmers, businesses and consumers in urban, suburban and rural communities. I am pleased that in 2011 Speaker Silver is continuing his support of these efforts and as Task Force Chair I look forward to building on our past accomplishments.
Other levels of government have joined with the Assembly to recognize the importance of crafting comprehensive, coordinated food policies for New York. The Governor's Food Policy Council (NYSCFP) is a welcome addition to this effort as is the recent FoodWorks initiative of the New York City Council. Outside of government, New York is home to many leading advocates, academics, and programs providing guidance for our food policy decisions.
As we move forward with new policies and programs, it is helpful to catalogue the laws we already have in place. This report is a compendium of statutes that have been sponsored by Task Force Chairs, but also includes other selected food policy laws.
Although New York can be proud of its early leadership role, many of the same problems affecting the State, and the nation, in the 1970s are still present: hunger, nutrition-related health problems, loss of farms and food processing, and reliance on imported food. New laws, and amendments to existing laws may be needed to address these challenges in today's environment.
The State, local governments and schools spend hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money each year on food. The Task Force has worked to encourage the use of those funds, and consumer spending in general, to buy local foods and increase consumption of nutritious food. Important benefits from these efforts include improved nutrition among children, which helps reduce future health problems such as obesity and diabetes and the related taxpayer expenditures for health care. Expanding consumption of local foods also makes local farms profitable, which not only strengthens regional economies, but helps prevent overdevelopment, thereby protecting open space and urban water supplies. On a more global scale these state policies help shrink our environmental "footprint" by reducing our reliance on importing food from distant states and countries.
To reach these goals, the Task Force promotes legislation and budget priorities to encourage improved nutrition among our citizens, especially those who struggle to afford a healthy diet and rely on government assistance. We also work to develop a healthy agricultural and food business sector that can market products to consumers who increasingly seek local food.
I hope you find this collection of laws helpful and informative. I look forward to working with you, the Speaker, my colleagues in the Legislature and the Governor to promulgate laws and budget initiatives that help us consume a nutritious diet of local foods so that our families, farmers and communities all benefit. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please contact us at:
NYS Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
Agency #4, 12th Floor
Albany, NY 12248
Assemblyman José Rivera
Chair, NYS Assembly Task Force on
Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
Click here to view the report.