This week the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, together with over seventy organizations and farm businesses, delivered a letter to Congressional Appropriators to urge them to fully fund the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) and the urban agriculture data collection initiative. This request echoed one made by over 50 Senate and House leaders in a separate letter to agriculture appropriators.
The 2018 Farm Bill authorized OUAIP and its various relevant initiatives in an effort to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other innovative agricultural practices as a tool to provide healthy, fresh food in low-access areas, workforce and community development opportunities, and promote soil health and reduce food waste.
Since the Office received its first appropriation in 2020, it has already invested over $50 million to increase the capacity of urban agriculture, innovative producers, and municipal composting initiatives in local communities across 43 states and Puerto Rico. However, the breadth of urban agriculture and innovative production techniques across the U.S. is not fully understood. This limits USDA’s ability to adequately serve producers, and stakeholders’ effectiveness in advocating for impactful policies. To better understand the impact of these activities in urban and suburban communities, it is critical Congress funds the one-time urban agriculture data collection initiative to supplement the latest Agricultural Census, as authorized in the Farm Bill.
As Congress prepares to write the 2023 Farm Bill, NSAC together with our members is advocating for a Farm Bill that advances racial equity, builds a climate resilient future alongside farmers, invests in healthy communities, and levels the playing field for all growers, including specific policy recommendations that build upon the early success of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. Meanwhile, while Farm Bill deliberations heat up, it is up to the appropriations process to ensure the programs can continue to train producers in new growing techniques, improve soil health, increase access to fresh produce, and build vibrant communities. This is why it is imperative to fully fund OUAIP at $25 million and the data collection initiative at $14 million.
Bruce Company Carman says
This is long overdue and has huge social – economic – environmental benefits including Women in Agriculture, Farm to School and Early Learning Centers. I encourage you to see my model to be built in Rosemount, MN.