A coalition of farmers, food and health organizations, including the Recirculating Farms Coalition, the Greater New Orleans Growers Alliance, and the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee, are celebrating a hopeful start to the new year – for the first time, Congress allocated funds and other resources in the Farm Bill specifically to support urban and innovative U.S. agriculture.
Marianne Cufone, Executive Director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition, said, “This is a landmark moment. Urban and innovative farms and farmers are a meaningful part of U.S. agriculture, and with this new acknowledgment and support in the Farm Bill, they will be able to contribute even more.”
Innovative farming includes hydroponics, land-based aquaculture and aquaponics, which are types of growing systems that Cufone’s Coalition specifically works with nationwide.
Urban farming can come in many shapes and sizes, attracting participants of various ages and backgrounds; thus it is expanding steadily throughout the U.S. In recognition of this, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies are increasing support services in and around cities for growers.
Margee Green, a co-founder of the Greater New Orleans Growers Alliance (GNOGA), said, “We’ve seen steady development in farming, and we expect to see even more people become growers now that there is dedicated support and services from the government. We are excited about the opportunity to work and learn more with our friends in rural areas.”
The Recirculating Farms Coalition and GNOGA are part of the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee, an organization that advises the New Orleans City Council on farming and food policy. NOLA FPAC members also led outreach and education efforts urging Congress to acknowledge and promote urban and innovative farming.
“The collaborative partners and members that comprise NOLA FPAC advocated at the local and national levels for urban and innovative agriculture to be included in the Farm Bill reauthorization. We are thrilled that Congress recognized the need to specifically support these growers, who can provide fresh, local food in and around cities where it is vital,” said NOLA FPAC Executive Director Elisa Munoz.
Urban and innovative farming offers important benefits for both mitigating the effects of and reducing contributions to climate change. Studies note that these farms can save energy by using solar or other alternative sources, manage water by collecting and recycling rainwater – also preventing flooding and runoff – and reduce use of fuel for shipping and refrigeration, as food is produced near consumers. Additionally, smaller farms with unique designs, dispersed throughout cities, can be resilient, providing food when it is most needed.
“With an uncertain and changing climate, investing in urban and innovative agriculture is smart for our future. We applaud Congress for recognizing this in the new Farm Bill,” Marianne Cufone said.
SOURCE Recirculating Farms Coalition