Bill promoting locally grown food benefits farmers, economy

A bill that promotes Kentucky-grown agricultural products in public universities deserves students’ support.

House Bill 484 would require UK and other public postsecondary institutions to buy locally grown agricultural products if they are the same price and quality as those from outside the state, the Kernel reported Feb. 20. According to Kentucky Legislature’s Web site (, the state House passed the bill on a vote of 95-0 Wednesday, and it’s now pending Senate approval.

Providing college students with locally grown food has some obvious benefits. Students get to enjoy healthier food that also tastes better without having to pay more. Because local transactions keep the money within the state, its economy will be strengthened. Slashing food-transportation mileage reduces fossil fuel consumption and consequently pollution. And with the growth in demand, local farmers will receive the greatest benefit.

As a former tobacco farmer pointed out in the Kernel article, farmers who have been trying to find other crops to replace tobacco due to its declining demand will benefit from an expansion in the market for locally grown food.

It seems that UK is ahead of the curve in supporting local farmers. The university already buys some food from a company that specializes in local food distribution, said UK Dining spokesman Roger Sidney in the article.

“Our philosophy is if we can get it at the same place and it’s grown locally, we’ll do it,” Sidney said.

UK should be applauded for its progressive philosophy, but it should not stop there. With the pending-passage of the bill, UK and other institutions can expand their efforts in supporting locally produced food.

It is also worth pointing out that a UK student first brought forth the idea for the bill. Brittany Dowell, a political science junior, suggested the idea to a state representative whom she interns under in Frankfort, the article reported.

House Bill 484 will not single-handedly solve the problems tobacco farmers in Kentucky face, nor will it turn the state’s shaky economy around, but it is one step forward in supporting locally grown food and the state’s farmers.