Today, the NYC Council Committee on Contracts is expected to vote out of committee a bill (called Int. No. 452-A) that would encourage city agencies to buy New York State food, defined as food grown, produced, harvested, or processed in New York. The legislation requires the chief procurement officer to develop local food procurement guidelines for agencies, monitor agency implementation of the guidelines, and prepare an annual report for the Council on each agency’s efforts to buy NYS food.
Agencies are not obligated to spend more on New York food, and in response to complaints from the Bloomberg administration that the original reporting requirements were onerous, the latest version of the bill merely requires agencies to request provenance data from vendors and to report that information if provided. The onus to gather and report the location of food bought by the city was removed from the agencies themselves.
The legislation seems like a good first step, though the obligations on the procuring agencies are minimal, since they are not authorized to pay a premium for local food and are only obligated to ask their vendors for information about provenance. But having an annual report will provide data for the first time on whether and to what extent the city is able to purchase local food, enabling the Council and advocates to ratchet up the requirements if the law isn’t working.
An accompanying resolution (Res. No. 627) calls for the New York State Legislature to amend the state’s General Municipal Law to enable city’s like New York to preferentially procure food from the wider foodshed, including from nearby states of New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.
If voted out of committee today, the full Council is expected to approve the measures on Thursday, July 28, 2011.