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City of St. Louis Could Build on Previous Healthy Food Access Legislation, MCE

Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) released information about a local bill that would help regional farmers bring fresh food to the areas of St. Louis that need it most. MCE, an advocacy group, helps to bring awareness to Missouri’s environmental issues, including local access to fresh and affordable locally grown foods.

Please take a look at the latest updates below from MCE. Also, check out their website for informative information about local environmental issues.

The Board of Alderman continues to respond to a growing interest in urban agriculture, healthy food access, and keeping money local. Board Bill 140 exempts farmers who sell at farmers’ markets from the city’s business license tax, which is a barrier to entry for many farmers who instead choose to sell their products across the city line, including the Maplewood Farmers’ Market.

“Our concern is that the city has been less competitive than the county when it comes to farmers’ markets,” said Patrick Horine, manager of the Tower Grove Farmers Market. “On numerous occasions, our vendors have expressed their frustration with the current city business license process while letting us know it is easier to operate in the county. The license exemption is a step in aligning the city and county and ensuring a robust farmers market environment across the region.”

The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition works regionally with a focus on improving food access in north St. Louis City and County. It also supports environmentally-responsible farmers reaching new markets with their products across the region, particularly in areas with limited healthy food options.

“Farmers within 150 miles of St. Louis are interested in finding new buyers for their products while the interest in purchasing locally-grown, fresh produce has grown from city residents of all income levels,” said Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director of Missouri Coalition for the Environment and Director of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition. “This growing interest is illustrated by the success of the Double Up Food Bucks program, a dollar-matching program for SNAP recipients to buy locally-grown fruits and vegetables, at venues such as the St. Louis MetroMarket and City Greens Market.”

Board Bill 140 was perfected by the Board of Alderman on November 9, 2018. A vote by the Board of Alderman and signature of Mayor Krewson is all that is needed for the bill to become law.

“This bill is the first step in a two-step process of making being a farmer in the City easy, affordable, and in line with St. Louis County,” said Alderwoman Cara Spencer. “The second step will change the permitting process through the City Department of Health.”

In 2017, the Board of Alderman passed a bill that allows residents to keep up to eight chickens on their property as a way to increase access to local healthy food. The Building Commissioner also issued a policy at the same time allowing residents growing eggs, honey, and produce to sell their products on site from their backyard garden, community garden, or urban farm. The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition conducted a citywide survey in 2016, hearing from 854 residents about their feelings on urban agriculture activities. The results of the survey led to the backyard chicken bill (2017) and on-site sales policy memo from the Building Commissioner (2017).

View the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition citywide urban agriculture survey (2016) here.

View MCE’s St. Louis Regional Food Study (2014) here.

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