What is the USDA’s Advisory Committee on Urban Agriculture?
While many of us have probably heard of the concept of urban agriculture, few fully understand what it means.
According to the USDA, “Urban agriculture allows for the development of a variety of environmental, economic, and social benefits to the surrounding communities.”
It helps preserve green spaces in cities where buildings have taken over neighborhoods, a place for individuals to come together for the common good while connecting neighbors to the earth and each other. In addition, urban agriculture helps communities have access to better nutrition, which benefits families’ health while helping to cut their overall food costs and even offer a new career path.
But the concept is not without its share of challenges. Mainly, urban farmers struggle to secure access to open land in their communities. Many landholders (both private and commercial) assign a steep price for open land, and urban farmers are competing with individuals, corporations, and even local governments with very deep pockets.
But a new committee started by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes to change all that. The twelve members of the newly created Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture plans to “provide input on policy development and to help identify barriers to urban agriculture as USDA works to promote urban farming and the economic opportunities it provides in cities across the country.”
Vilsack says, “Urban agriculture has been growing in impact and importance, and we are taking bold actions to build a support structure. I look forward to learning how we can better serve urban agricultural producers, which will complement our efforts focusing on equity, local food systems, access to safe and nutritional food, and new ways to address climate change.”
The committee is part of a broad investment by the USDA for urban farming, which includes grants for education, new start-ups, and local zoning policies; technical and financial assistance; risk management, and more.
For more information on the USDA’s initiatives on urban agriculture, click here.
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