Giving a policy voice to Michigan farmers markets has always been an integral part of MIFMA’s vision and our work as an organization. We are incredibly proud of what MIFMA has achieved for our members over the past 10 years, from expanding acceptance of food assistance benefits at farmers markets to advocating for sales of Cottage Foods, wild foraged mushrooms and wine at Michigan farmers markets. Click here to learn more about our Advocacy in Action.
For an in-depth look at what we have been able to accomplish with the support of our members over the last decade, check out our Advocacy Accomplishments. Click here for a print-friendly version of our accomplishments: MIFMA’s Advocacy Highlights.
We advocate for policies that place farmers markets at the forefront of the local food movement to increase the awareness and consumption of the state’s diverse agricultural products and ensure equitable access to fresh, nutritious, local foods.
Part of MIFMA’s vision is to ensure that Michigan farmers markets have policy support. To guide our work towards that vision, each year MIFMA’s Advocacy Committee creates advocacy priorities that will provide a framework for MIFMA’s advocacy work. Member feedback is a valuable part of the drafting process and MIFMA believes it is important to give members time to ask questions and provide suggestions.
MIFMA’s 2019 Advocacy Priorities were voted on by members at MIFMA’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, March 6, during the 2019 Michigan Farmers Market Conference. Top actionable priorities for 2019 are outlined below.
2020 Advocacy Priorities
Within the State of Michigan, MIFMA will advocate to:
- Continue ensuring that the wireless equipment needed to accept SNAP is always available at no cost to farmers markets and direct marketing farmers. A significant barrier for farmers markets and direct marketing farmers (e.g. Farm Stands) accepting SNAP Bridge Cards is the cost of the equipment to process transactions. In 2018, the State of Michigan provided support in the form of a one-time budget line item and leveraged that funding to apply for additional federal funding to provide no-cost wireless equipment (Read more about this advocacy accomplishment here.) This is a temporary solution that will meet the need only until the funding runs out. There is still a need to secure permanent funding for equipment and associated monthly and transactional fees.
Within the United States, MIFMA will advocate to:
- Explore ways that WIC Cash Value Benefits (CVB) that recipients receive each month to spend on fruits and vegetables can be spent at farmers markets and directly with farmers. WIC CVB is a year-round food assistance program that supports nutritionally vulnerable women, infants, and children. Participants use a WIC Bridge Card to buy specific products most important to their nutritional needs which can include a monthly allotment to purchase fruits and vegetables. Currently, due to federal regulations and available, affordable technology, this program is not allowed to be accepted at farmers markets when it is electronically processed. There is interest in Michigan and across the country to find solutions that allow relevant portions of the program to be accepted at farmers markets.
- Begin building and communicating the justification for Produce Prescription programs to be a covered cost through private insurance and/or Medicare/Medicaid. With the expansion of Produce Prescription Programs (PPR) across the state and nation, there is a need for sustainable funding sources to support the true costs of continued operations of these programs and a growing body of evidence of the impact these programs have on the health of participants, communities, and the economic viability of local food systems. Currently, funding for these programs comes from a mixture of state and federal grants, private foundations, and/or community health benefit dollars. Due to the inconsistent sources of funding, many programs struggle to continue past pilot year(s). We can join with partners and coalitions to begin building and communicating the justification for Produce Prescription Programs to be a covered healthcare expense.
- Maintain federal funding for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). In each of the budgets presented by the current federal administration, it has been proposed that funding for WIC FMNP (known as WIC Project FRESH in Michigan) be eliminated. Food security advocates have ensured that Congress has continued to fund the program at a national level at or near historic funding levels despite this recommendation. MIFMA will advocate for maintaining the current funding level.
How do I get involved?
Join MIFMA’s Advocacy Committee! This committee is charged with guiding MIFMA’s involvement in food and farming policy efforts and advocating for our members on important issues. The Advocacy Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month at 11:00 a.m. EST by video conference. To join, email firstname.lastname@example.org.