Metropolitan Grand Rapids will be home to a new federal urban agriculture committee designed to help the nation’s Farm Service Agency administer its programs at a local level.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday announced that both metropolitan Grand Rapids and Detroit are among six new locations for Farm Service Agency urban county committees. In addition to the two Michigan cities, the USDA announced Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Oakland and Chicago as new sites, joining the 11 existing locations.
These Urban County Committees, which are organized in collaboration with the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, will consist of three elected members. They will work to encourage and promote urban, indoor and other merging agriculture production practices, according to the USDA.
The Urban County Committee is a new spin on a long-existing concept. The Farm Service Agency has utilized county committees to make decisions on how programs are administered locally since the 1930s, but the focus on urban farming is new and intended to give urban farmers a voice in USDA priorities and funding.
The Grand Rapids Urban County Committee will represent urban producers in Grand Rapids, Holland, Kentwood and Muskegon as well as portions of Mecosta, Montcalm, Ionia, Kent, Allegan, Ottawa, and Muskegon counties.
“Supporting agriculture in our urban communities helps grow our economy and provides food to people,” U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow said in a statement. “I’m proud that Michigan has been a pioneer in this effort. Urban farmers provide fresh and healthy food to children and families while creating jobs and revitalizing our neighborhoods.”
Selecting the six additional locations was based on a variety of factors, including economic growth opportunity, diversity and proximity to tribal nations.
“Urban county committees promote equity by giving urban producers a voice in creating and implementing policy and developing and designing programs specific to urban producers,” Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux said in an announcement. “These new urban county committees will work to encourage and promote urban agriculture and address areas such as food and program access, community engagement and food security.”
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