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Landry vetoes bill requiring state agriculture officials to join fight against food deserts

2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago Monday, May 27 2024 May 27, 2024 May 27, 2024 10:41 PM May 27, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Jeff Landry has vetoed a bill that would have directed state agriculture officials to set up programs targeting areas of the state where it's difficult to obtain fresh produce.

The House and Senate overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 287, which would have established grant or loan programs among qualified non-profit groups or local banks. The public-private partnerships would have been subject to competitive bidding.

Under the proposal, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry would "establish a financing program that provides grants and loans to health food retailers that increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other affordable healthy food in underserved communities."

Federal agriculture officials define a food desert as a location that is not within 10 miles of a larger food retailer. The Louisiana Food Bank Association says one out of every seven Louisiana resident lives in a food desert.

With the veto, the current law will remain in place. It says the Department of Agriculture and Forestry can enter the projects to the extent that funding is available. The proposed bill would have required the state to set up programs.

The Senate OK'd the bill on a 38-1 vote. Sen. Valerie Hodges of Denham Springs was the only senator against the idea.

In the House, the vote was 89-5. All Baton Rouge House members voted for it except for Reps. Paula Davis of Baton Rouge and Kellee Dickerson of Denham Springs, who missed the vote.

Lawmakers this month stepped in to draw down federal aid for a summer food program after Landry last winter said Louisiana would not take part. It's not immediately known if lawmakers will attempt to override the food bill veto.

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