June 9, 2014
On Monday, June 9, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Local Foods, Local Places, a new initiative that will provide direct technical support to rural communities to help them build strong local food systems as part of their community’s economic action plans. USDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the Delta Regional Authority are together investing $650,000 in the program to help create more livable places by promoting local foods.
Local Foods, Local Places will provide direct technical support to select communities to help them develop and implement action plans promoting local food and downtown revitalization. A team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with the selected communities to develop comprehensive strategies that use local food systems to meet their specific needs. Additionally, communities in the Appalachia and Delta regions are eligible for financial assistance to help implement their action plans.
Applications to the Local Foods, Local Places program are due July 15, 2014.
The program is based in part on a joint USDA-EPA-ARC Livable Communities Initiative in Appalachia through which five towns received funding to develop local food systems.
The White House Rural Council held a briefing on the new initiative today, headlined by Vilsack and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
Speaking of the new initiative, Secretary Vilsack highlighted the economic opportunities that local food systems provide for rural communities.
“Buying locally is one of the best things a community can do to grow its economy. Partnerships like Local Food, Local Places help rural leaders develop strategies for promoting farm products grown by people right in their own communities. The demand for local food is growing rapidly nationwide, creating more opportunities for American farmers and ranchers and growing the entire country’s rural economy.”
Eligibility and Criteria
All communities in the United States are eligible to apply, and particular consideration will be given to areas served by the Appalachian Regional Commission, areas served by the Delta Regional Authority, federally-designated Promise Zones, and USDA-designated StrikeForce counties. Special consideration will also be given to communities that are in the early stages of developing or restoring local food enterprises and creating economically vibrant communities.
Applications will be evaluated on their commitment to USDA’s Seven Strategies for Economic Development, the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ Livability Principles, as well as their potential for success in the following program areas:
How to Apply
Communities should submit a letter of interest that describes their needs and goals related to local food, downtown revitalization, and traditional neighborhoods. Letters may be submitted by any community representative, including representatives of local government and nongovernmental organizations. In their letter of interest, communities are strongly encouraged to demonstrate the support of a local or regional development organization or a local community college or organization.
Letters should be submitted by email to Ed Fendley at firstname.lastname@example.org, and applicants should include “Local Foods, Local Places” and the name of the community in the email’s subject line. Letters of interest are due July 15, 2014.