Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) this week introduced the Urban Agriculture Act of 2016 to “addresses the unique needs of urban farmers by investing new resources and increasing flexibility through existing programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).”
Senator Stabenow announced her legislation Monday during a press conference at D-Town Farm in Detroit. “Urban agriculture is steadily growing in cities and towns across Michigan and across our country, creating new economic opportunities and safer, healthier environments,” said Senator Stabenow. “The Urban Agriculture Act will continue this momentum by helping urban farmers get started or expand their business, so they can sell more products and supply more healthy food for their neighbors.”
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president Zippy Duvall said the legislation would help urban farmers by providing them with the technology and tools to succeed. “As an organization that supports farmers of all sizes, commodities and production systems, Farm Bureau believes this legislation will build a stronger bond among all farmers—rural, suburban and urban,” said Duvall. “It’s exciting that more Americans want to become farmers… Farm Bureau looks forward to being a partner in those efforts.”
The legislation would provide support for urban farmers in a variety of ways through USDA, such as helping to develop farm cooperatives in urban areas, making it easier for urban farms to apply for USDA farm programs and assists producers with information on operating rooftop and vertical farms and investing $10 million for cutting-edge research to explore market opportunities for urban agriculture and develop new technologies for lowering energy and water needs.