February 29, 2012

USDA Documents Success Stories and Resources Available to Local Farmers

Statement by Jeffrey O’Hara, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (February 29, 2012) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today unveiled an interactive map, or compass, on their Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website that tracks USDA’s support for local and regional food systems, as well as a report detailing successful case studies. USDA has more than 25programs designed to expand local food systems, spread across 17 agencies. Such local food programs range from grants that establish farmers markets in low-income neighborhoods to loans for farmers to purchase equipment.

The Union of Concerned Scientists commends USDA Secretary Vilsack and USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan for their commitment to supporting healthy farms and local food systems.

Below is a statement by Jeffrey O’Hara, an agricultural economist at UCS’s Food & Environment Program:

“The compass and report highlight USDA’s accomplishments in supporting local and regional food systems, which have certainly created jobs and bolstered local economies. Despite these initial successes, additional funding is needed to sustain the economic growth resulting from local and regional food systems.

“Many of these local food programs will be on chopping block when the farm bill expires this year. Party lines aside, rural communities need our support. During the farm bill proceedings, Congress must act to support local foods legislation.”