FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Laura Zaks
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Release: NSAC Praises Introduction of the Supporting Urban & Innovative Farming Act of 2023 in the House
Washington, DC, October 18, 2023 – Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC-12), Shontel Brown (D-OH-11), Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Jonathan Jackson (D-IL-1), Nikema Williams (D-GA-5), Eleanor Norton (D-DC), Jasmine Crockett (D-TX-30), Danny Davis (D-IL-7), Donald Payne Jr (D-NJ-10), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-07), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5), James McGovern (D-MA-2), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18) recently introduced the Supporting Urban & Innovative Farming Act. These Congressional champions join their Senate colleagues in their efforts to secure support for the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, while improving content and service delivery for urban, suburban, and innovative producers throughout USDA’s service center network.
“In 2023, the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production exponentially expanded their efforts to improve access to USDA services among urban, microscale, and innovative growers. They did so by opening 17 new urban service centers, expanding to 27 urban FSA county committees, and funding trusted community partners to lead outreach and technical assistance delivery across these geographies. The Supporting Urban & Innovative Farming Act would provide policy reforms and necessary investments to provide tailored technical assistance that responds to the unique needs of producers utilizing innovative growing techniques at a variety of scales in urban settings and beyond. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is extremely pleased to see such strong Congressional support for the Office and its activities, particularly among members of the House and Senate agriculture committees,” commented Hannah Quigley, NSAC Policy Specialist.
“We’re excited to see the Supporting Urban and Innovative Farming Act move forward in the House and applaud Representative Elissa Slotkin for her support as a cosponsor. The bill is an important acknowledgement of the essential role urban agriculture plays in addressing environmental justice and disparities in public health,” said Jen Silveri, Co-Executive Director with Michigan Food & Farming Systems, an NSAC member.
The Supporting Urban and Innovative Farming Act of 2023 is Endorsed by:
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, CEA Alliance, RAFI-USA, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Chicago Food Policy Action Council, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, Cultivate Kansas City, Fair Food Network, Ag Noire, Michigan Food and Farming Systems
The 2018 Farm Bill authorized a new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) whose mission is to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other innovative agricultural practices. While the name implies a restriction to urban areas, OUAIP supports a wide array of agricultural producers and businesses that lend themselves to urban environments but that have been adopted in both suburban and rural areas. OUAIP promotes a variety of practices such as community gardens, outdoor vertical production, greenhouses, indoor farms, hydroponic facilities, and more.
Small and micro-scale agriculture and innovative agricultural production techniques have become increasingly popular in urban and suburban areas as a means for beginning growers to gain experience in farm production as well as to meet the immediate food needs of their surrounding communities. OUAIP has provided grant funding to support these producers and has also facilitated the cultural shift necessary in broader USDA services to respond to the unique needs of urban, innovative and indoor operations.
Earlier this summer, the future of OUAIP was threatened when it was left out of House and Senate Appropriations Bills. NSAC and 140 other organizations, farms, and food businesses quickly responded to encourage Congressional Appropriators to rectify this issue. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8), among dozens of their Congressional colleagues, acted to restore its funding. The Supporting Urban and Innovative Farming Act will not only solve this issue by providing mandatory funding, but it will also provide pathways to further incorporate tailored focus and services for small- and micro-scale and controlled environment growing techniques across USDA.
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: https://sustainableagriculture.net