This week, the U.S. Senate acted in bipartisan spirit to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act – a balanced, comprehensive bill that will drive continued growth in rural America. The House of Representatives now has another important opportunity to stand with rural America and pass their version of a bill.

People often call this the Farm Bill – but it’s much more than that. This is a conservation bill. It’s a trade promotion bill. It’s an innovation bill. It’s a jobs bill.

And it’s a bill that will help continue a tremendous increase in markets for locally-grown foods. This includes creating more farmers markets, building additional regional food hubs and strengthening farm-to-institution programs.

In recent years, USDA has carried out a very successful Farmers Market Promotion Program that has increased the number of farmers markets by 67% since 2008. The Senate bill expands these efforts through its Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.

This would continue to help producers sell their product directly to consumers through farmers markets, but it would also help farmers who are ready to scale up and sell to local grocery stores or other institutions. Regional food hubs, which connect farmers to these larger-volume markets, would have a new tool to expand and grow.