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Urban Agriculture Shifts Tactics Under Trump


Kathleen Merrigan is a former U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary

“The forces of darkness want to eliminate organic” from the Farm Bill entirely. Both organic and urban agriculture programs may be at risk for federal funding cuts

By Jenny Splitter
Washington City Paper
Mar 27, 2017

Excerpt:

Kathleen Merrigan is a former U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary and longtime advocate for both organic and urban farming. Many observers say she’d be the Agriculture Secretary right now had Hillary Clinton won the election. Less than 100 days into Trump’s presidency, she sounds worried.

Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, Merrigan, told the food policy summit audience she’d heard “the forces of darkness want to eliminate organic” from the Farm Bill entirely. Both organic and urban agriculture programs may be at risk for federal funding cuts, but Merrigan stands ready to defend the space urban agriculture has carved out for itself.

“Urban agriculture can’t feed the world—heck, it may not even be able to feed the block,” she quipped, but Merrigan insists the movement has more than earned its seat at the policy table. Urban farms matter, according to Merrigan, because they offer city dwellers a way to find a connection to the land and even their rural-dwelling, fellow Americans.

Historically, the Farm Bill has always brought together unlikely allies, so Merrigan is urging urban agriculture advocates to work with traditional rural agriculture groups. Considering the many cuts to rural programs that Trump is proposing, Merrigan’s suggestion makes a lot of sense. She made that plea while sharing the stage with Kip Tom, a rural farmer from Indiana and a Trump supporter, signaling, perhaps, that negotiations can happen anywhere.

Read the complete article here.