As part of USDA’s efforts to support urban agriculture, Thomas Vilsack – the Secretary of Agriculture – has appointed 12 members to serve on the new Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture. The members – who will serve terms of one to three years – will provide input on policy development and help identify barriers to urban agriculture. The Committee is made up of agricultural producers, and representatives from the areas of higher education or extension programs, non-profits, business and economic development, supply chains and financing.
The new advisory committee is part of a broad USDA investment in urban agriculture. Other efforts include:
- Grants that target areas of food access, education, business and start-up costs for new farmers, and development of policies related to zoning and other needs of urban production;
- Cooperative agreements that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans;
- Investing in risk management training and crop insurance education for historically underserved and urban producers;
- Providing technical and financial assistance through conservation programs offered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and
- Organizing 11 Farm Service Agency (FSA) urban and suburban county committees.
The first meeting of this inaugural committee, which will be open to the public, will take place in late February. More details will be available in the Federal Register and at farmers.gov/urban and the new Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture website.
“Urban agriculture has been growing in impact and importance, and we are taking bold actions to build a support structure,” said Vilsack. “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.”