Supporting the effort to bridge the divide between urban and rural America through agriculture, National Farmers Union (NFU) commended Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) for championing new legislation that fosters opportunities for urban agriculture. The Urban Agriculture Act of 2016, which will be introduced later this week, would expand U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs to support urban farmers, encouraging food production, job creation, urban revitalization and diversity in agriculture production.
“Urban agriculture plays an important role in reconnecting the food consumer with the farmer. It is also a part of meeting rising food demands, supplying easier access to highly nutritious vegetables and fruits, and establishing new market opportunities for emerging farmers. NFU supports Ranking Member Stabenow’s efforts towards ensuring emerging and existing urban producers have the tools and resources to join rural producers in maintaining a sustainable food system,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
Consumers growing demand to understand how and where food is grown has shifted the way we think about agriculture production today, Johnson explained. “Urban agriculture helps to bridge the farm-to-fork divide,” while creating direct marketing opportunities that can catalyze growth for small and beginning farmers.
“Urban agriculture provides a feasible and sustainable business option for those wanting to get into farming, attracting new faces to the industry that may not have otherwise considered this profession. This bill will help support the programs that are making these opportunities possible,” he added.
According to USDA, urban agriculture practices are successfully using rooftops, abandoned properties, empty lots, and aquaponics centers in old warehouses to grow gardens and crops. Not only has urban farming regenerated community beautification efforts, it has also provided many other local benefits, including closer neighborhood ties, reduced crime, and provided education and job training opportunities, and healthy food access for low-income residents.
“Urban agriculture benefits communities, consumers and producers, alike. We look forward to working with Congress and USDA to encourage support for urban agriculture expansion across the country,” Johnson concluded.
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.