FCS Diversity and Inclusion - PROPOSED RULE - MARCH 2011 Dear Mr. Van Meter,
I completely support the proposed rule to diversify the FCS loan portfolio by responding to the needs of farmers growing food for their local communities. Access to capital through this avenue is extremely critical to our country’s ability to feed itself.
I am head of the steering group for Edible Economy Project, a group of farmers and citizens creating a food hub in Central Illinois that will allow farmers (both small farms and larger commodity farms wanting to put a few acres into e.g. dry beans for the local market) to grow more vegetables, and bring them to a convenient location to have them washed, sorted, aggregated, stored, and distributed to our local universities, hospitals, and other institutions clamoring for more local food. This food hub infrastructure is desperately needed to help farmers scale up and meet the demand--which will also create and retain wealth in rural communities. The Edible Economy Project is part of the Great Lakes Food Hub Network, a regional collaborative of food hubs.
In working with the Edible Economy Project, it has become very apparent that traditional credit models used by many lenders do not match up well with the needs of small scale farms. This mismatch and the recent financial meltdown has led to an unwillingness to provide financing for small farm investment.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to provide comment on ways the FCS can better serve local and regional food producers, and the consumers who want and need healthy local foods and vibrant rural economies.
Sincerely, Marty Payne Founding Member and Steering Group Member – Edible Economy Project
Marty Payne Edible Economy Project PO Box 5153 Bloomington, IL 61701