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22 March 2010

Holsman's Urban Farming Bill Passes Committee

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Shortly after two o'clock today, the Missouri House of Representatives' Committee on Agriculture Policy unanimously voted to pass a bill [HB1848] sponsored by State Representative Jason R. Holsman, D-Kansas City, which would create a task force to study urban agriculture and vertical farming in Missouri's metropolitan areas. The committee also unanimously voted to mark the bill as a 'consent bill' which means that the proposed legislation is non-controversial in nature. Consent bills are often fast-tracked through the legislative process as they can usually be passed out of the house without substantial change.

At left: Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser traveled to
Jefferson City to testify in favor of House Bill 1848.

The Agriculture Policy Committee held a hearing on the bill on Thursday, March 18th, but waited to vote on the issue until today. In Thursday's hearing, several witnesses testified in favor of the bill, including Katherine Kelly from the K.C. Center for Urban Agriculture, Gwenne Hayes-Stewart from Gateway Greening, Adam Saunders from the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, and Mayor Mark Funkhouser from Kansas City. Mayor Funkhouser, in his testimony, commented that in many urban areas of Missouri, it was easier for citizens to find and purchase unhealthy foods, such as cheeseburgers than wholesome fruits and vegetables. No one testified against the bill.

"There is a lot of interest in the idea of urban agriculture, and multiple initiatives are underway in my city and throughout the state to encourage it," said Funkhouser, "I am gratified that Rep. Holsman took the lead and introduced this legislation. Passage of Holsman's bill will ensure we bring together the most useful strategies in this almost forgotten art."

Having been marked as a consent bill greatly increases the proposed legislation's chances of making its way through the General Assembly. The bill still needs to be approved by the House, pass through the Senate, and be signed by the governor before it becomes law.

"Not only is this a good idea, but this will be a great opportunity for youth," said Rep. Steve Hodges, D-Mississippi County, a member of the Agriculture Policy Committee, "this will give people in the metro areas a sense of achievement; taking a vacant lot full of trash and junk and turning it into something functional."

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