USA Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act!
Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) introduced the bill. Kaptur visits with master gardener Rob McCreary, left, of Toledo and Mike Szuberla of the Toledo Grows nonprofit group during the plant sale at Toledo Botanical Garden. Photo by Jetta Fraser.
Quick Summary of H.R. 3225, the Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act
The Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act will help create the next generation of farmers in our nation’s cities, reduce foreign agricultural imports, work to eliminate food deserts, strengthen local food systems and increase marketing opportunities for small farmers while improving seniors’ nutrition.
Next Generation of Farmers and Reducing Foreign Agricultural Imports
Economic challenges and land use changes have created vacant land throughout the nation’s cities. These areas could be transformed into greenhouses or community gardens by agricultural entrepreneurs but many of these individuals likely never thought an agricultural related small business was possible in a metro area and USDA has not traditionally engaged these communities.
In addition, USDA estimates that the U.S. will import nearly $95 Billion in agricultural products in 2011. If we were to turn vacant land in our cities into agricultural producing small businesses, we would create the next generation of American farmers to reduce the need for foreign imports.
The Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act establishes the Community Agriculture Outreach Program to help fund efforts to engage prospective entrepreneurs in metro areas and also establishes the Office of Community Agriculture within USDA to focus on using existing USDA resources to increase agriculture production in nontraditional production areas.
Eliminating Food Deserts and Strengthening Local Food Systems
USDA estimates that 23.5 million people live in food deserts and 14.5 percent of households were food insecure. These problems occur because of our broken food systems.
The Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act specifically tasks the Office of Community Agriculture with the responsibility of ensuring that existing USDA programs specifically address the root causes of food deserts and food insecurity. In addition, the Office is provided with the authority to coordinate efforts among federal departments to eliminate food deserts and food insecurity.
Increasing Marketing Opportunities for Small Farmers & Improving Senior Nutrition
USDA reports that 60 percent of small farms have gross cash farm income of less than $10,000. About 35 percent of small farms sales come from direct sales such as those at farmers markets.
The Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act seeks to increase small farmers income by increasing funding for and expanding the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program. In addition, the bill would help support consumer demand at farmers’ market and improve senior’s nutrition by increasing funding for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
Furthermore, the legislation requires the Office of Community Agriculture to develop a strategy to ensure that the $91 Billion in federal nutrition assistance program funding is used to support economic development and the consumption of locally produced foods.
Community Food Security Coalition Supports H.R. 3225
Approximately 80% of the U.S. population lives in metropolitan areas, and urban agriculture is an effective means to increase food security and provide access to fresh, affordable, nutritious food. Urban agriculture can also contribute to sustainability, economic and community development.
Earlier this month, Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) introduced a bill to advance community agricultural production in nontraditional communities, encourage local food production, and increase the availability of fresh food in underserved communities. The Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act of 2011 (H.R. 3225) will create jobs by diversifying agricultural production in communities not traditionally associated with agriculture.
Why Community Food Security Coalition Supports H.R. 3225
In light of the importance you placed on fostering community-based agriculture in our Farm Bill listening sessions earlier this year, CFSC has endorsed the Community Agriculture Development and Jobs Act. Creating more opportunities for agriculture and gardening projects in urban areas can greatly increase food security and access to healthy, affordable food. CFSC’s Policy and Urban Agriculture committees welcome this bill as a comprehensive way to expand support for urban agriculture and address the root causes of so-called food deserts. If enacted, it will:
Establish an Office of Community Agriculture within USDA.
Create the Community Agriculture Outreach Program to provide grants to community organizations, municipalities, institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, and local school districts to encourage the production of local foods.
Increase funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
Develop the Community Agriculture Research Initiative to conduct scientific research on the needs for promoting and enhancing agricultural production solely in nontraditional communities.