April 28, 2010
This week, NSAC is launching a new tool to help producers, community-based organizations, local governments, and other groups who are engaged in work to develop their local or regional food system.
The Guide to USDA Funding for Local and Regional Food Systems seeks to de-mystify some of the federal grant programs most likely to be useful to food systems’ development work and directs organizations to specific resources that can help in designing a project and writing a grant.
Applying for federal funding can be daunting, but these federal programs belong to you and we hope this guide helps you to take advantage of them and, in doing so, add to the vibrant movement to rebuild local and regional food systems.
We also appreciate any feedback or thoughts you have on this First Edition. Feedback can be directed at policyintern(at)sustainableagriculture.net.
From the Introduction to the Guide:
Around the country, farmers, entrepreneurs, parents, students, community organizers, and activists are coming up with novel ways to develop food systems that are economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable. From farm business incubation programs, to community kitchens, to “Buy Local,” campaigns, the initiatives led by these visionaries demonstrate that it is possible to re-envision the way food is grown, processed, distributed, and consumed in America.
Sometimes it takes crisis to elicit the best in us. Childhood obesity and diabetes, the economic hemorrhaging of rural communities with the loss of mid-sized family farms, the increase in urban and rural food deserts, rising energy prices, and environmental tragedy have all generated public awareness of the problems with our globalized, industrial food system. Increasingly, academics and practitioners are coming to recognize the potential in local and regional food systems to provide healthy, fresh, affordable food, preserve natural resources, and support vibrant rural communities.
The Guide begins with a general overview of the USDA’s structure, followed by descriptions and details of fifteen grants and programs that are relevant to local and regional food system development. Each program description also includes a case study of a real-world regional food system project that received program funding.