Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Latest Investments to Connecting Consumers to Their Food While Creating New Market Opportunities for Producers
NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2016 - At the New York Times Food for Tomorrow Conference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $56 million in grants to strengthen local and regional food systems, support farmers markets, and fund organic research. Since 2009, USDA has invested over $1 billion in more than 40,000 local food businesses and infrastructure projects.
"Since this Administration launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative in 2009 to coordinate USDA efforts to support local and regional food systems, there has been a dramatic increase in consumer demand for buying local," said Vilsack. "Over the years, we've seen how these new market opportunities are helping to drive job growth in agriculture, increase entrepreneurship in rural communities, and expand food access and choice. This latest round of grants will expand the capacity of farmers and businesses to serve this growing market, help revitalize local economies around the country, and support efforts around the country to provide fresh, healthy food to all Americans."
The Food for Tomorrow conference brings together a range of leaders to discuss important issues and trends affecting how we feed our nation and the world. At the event, Vilsack made three significant funding announcements.
In conjunction with the funding announcements, Vilsack announced $48.1 million in available fiscal year 2017 funding through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) to support systems-based research and extension activities that accelerate science-based solutions and new technology for the specialty crop industry. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. The Specialty Crop Research Initiative was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill to invest in long-term solutions that address problems in the overlapping systems of production, distribution and processing, and consumers and markets.
USDA is committed to helping organic agriculture grow and thrive. USDA strongly supports the organic sector through a wide variety of programs, including conservation grants, organic crop insurance, certification cost-share, organic market news, and simplified microloans. To learn more about USDA support for organic agriculture, visit the updated organic portal at www.usda.gov/organic.
USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative coordinates the Department's work to develop strong local and regional food systems. Over the course of the Obama Administration, USDA has invested close to $1 billion in 40,000 local food-related projects on farms and in communities across the country. Information on local and regional supply chain resources is available on the newly-revamped KYF2 website and the KYF2 Compass can help users locate USDA investments in their community. More information on how USDA investments are connecting producers with consumers, expanding rural economic opportunities, and increasing SNAP access at farmers markets is available in the New Markets, New Opportunities Medium chapter. Under this Administration, USDA has also significantly expanded its efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans. More information about USDA efforts to support the health of our next generation can be found on USDA's Medium chapter, Growing a Healthier Future.
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