Legislation that would establish a Missouri senior farmers’ market nutrition program is expected to head to the House floor in Jefferson City.

State Sen. Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City)

The House Agriculture Policy Committee voted last week to approve the bill, which is sponsored by State Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City.

“It will increase the availability of more nutritious food for our seniors, increase the profitability of our local farmers and help to strengthen our local economies,” Curls testified Tuesday.

Curls’ legislation would require the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) to apply for a federal grant to provide low-income seniors with vouchers that could be exchanged for eligible food at farmers’ markets and roadside stands.

A diverse coalition ranging from the Missouri Soybean Association to Empower Missouri testified for Curls’ bill last week.

The Missouri State Alliance of YMCAs and the American Heart Association also testified for it.

“Missouri is one of only seven states that do not participate in this worthwhile program,” Curls testifies. “All of Missouri’s neighboring states participate, putting Missouri farmers at a competitive disadvantage.”

Curls says investing in Missouri agriculture is always a great way to support economic development and to provide nutrition for low-income seniors.

The Missouri Senate has already approved Curls’ bill, which now heads to the House Rules Committee. It would then go to the House floor.

Senator Curls testifies that under the bill, a couple over the age of 60 with an annual household income less than or equal to $20,826 would be eligible.

The Silver Haired Legislature said in January that about 330,000 Missouri seniors would qualify for the legislation.

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