Friday, June 13, 2014

Feds create small program to promote local food

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack introduced a new federal assistance program this week called "Local Foods, Local Places." The Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority are investing a total of $650,000 to help local communities "create more livable places by promoting local foods," according to a White House release.

The goal is to "boost economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses and foster entrepreneurship," improve access to healthy local food, "revitalize downtowns, main street districts and traditional neighborhoods by supporting farmers’ markets, food hubs, community gardens, community kitchens and other kinds of local food enterprises and by providing people with affordable choices for accessing those amenities, such as walking, biking or taking transit," the release says.

Vilsack said in a USDA release, "Buying locally is one of the best things a community can do to grow its economy. Partnerships like Local Food, Local Places help rural leaders develop strategies for promoting farm products grown by people right in their own communities. The demand for local food is growing rapidly nationwide, creating more opportunities for American farmers and ranchers and growing the entire country's rural economy." (Read more)

All communities are eligible to apply, but those given particular attention include areas served by the Appalachian and Delta agencies, as well as federal Promise Zones and USDA StrikeForce counties. Application letters are due by July 15. (Read more)

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