How Farm Policy Can Develop New Farmers, Improve Health in “Food Deserts,” Develop New Local and Regional Domestic Markets, and Increase USDA’s Public Value
Report from the Northeast Midwest Institute – Center for Policy Initiatives.
The 2008 Farm Bill created significant opportunities at USDA to facilitate the development of local and regional food systems, develop a new generation of farmers, and improve our understanding of the nation’s diet inequities. However, the Bush Administration has lagged at implementing some key initiatives, and has failed to provide leadership on USDA’s mission with these issues. Taken together, the new marketing opportunities offered through establishing a more regionalized food distribution network can create economic opportunities for beginning farmers and improve the market penetration of healthy and fresh products to communities with limited physical access to those foods.
Reorganizing the administration of programs with existing funds and authorities to better address these interlinked issues can offer real gains, improve the public perception of USDA’s value, and provide a legislative strategy consistent with Congressional priorities. Outcomes include:
- Increased investments for local and regional food system development;
- A New Farmer Incubator Pilot Program based upon existing land grant resources; and
- Improved consumer access to, and potential price reduction in, healthy and fresh foods.
Summary of Recommendations
1. Centralize resources and improve information capacity within USDA pertaining to local and regional food systems and beginning farmers.
2. Identify inter- and extra-agency collaborative opportunities to address food access (food desert) issues.
3. Give new farmer development a central role in agricultural academic institutions, linked with opportunities in local and regional food systems.
For More Information Contact:CONTACT:
Alan R. Hunt
Senior Policy Analyst for Agriculture and Food Policy
Northeast Midwest Institute
50 F St. NW, Suite 950