US: Congressional bill introduced to boost urban agriculture

Today, U.S. Representatives Bobby L. Rush, Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) introduced H.R.5266, the Urban Agriculture Healthy Food and Entrepreneur Act. This bill would establish two new programs — the Urban Agriculture Conservation Easement Program and the Urban Agriculture Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. Together, they would increase the availability of land and capital in communities to encourage more local urban agriculture production.

“Food deserts are a serious problem facing my constituents, as are ‘food swamps,’ or areas where unhealthy fast-food options far outnumber healthier alternatives. Both put communities, particularly communities of color, at heightened risk for severe health problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, and type two diabetes,” said Rep. Bobby Rush. “This legislation will help empower urban communities to address the root causes of food insecurity, as well as the resulting public health issues that follow, all while restoring neighborhoods with functional greenspace and creating jobs.”

“In too many cities across America, families are living in food deserts with very little access to healthy food that is affordable and nutritious, thereby negatively impacting their health and wellbeing. My legislation will help address these challenges by empowering local communities and entrepreneurs to create urban farms and gardens, beautifying their neighborhoods, supporting new small business opportunities, creating local jobs, and enabling stronger, healthier communities,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“Food insecurity is a public health issue that harms the most vulnerable. This legislation helps urban communities meet their nutritional needs with resources produced in their own backyards,” said Rep. Gwen Moore. “Increasing resources for urban agriculture will create healthier communities and create local jobs that support the economy.”

In addition to creating two new programs — the Urban Agriculture Conservation Easement Program and the Urban Agriculture Microentrepreneur Assistance Program — H.R.5266 would also extend the authority of the Community Food Project Grant Program by $15 million annually. It would also increase funding for the Farm to Schools Program by $10 million.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Union of Concerned Scientists, Good Food For All, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Just Food, and WhyHunger all support this legislation.

Source: Bobby L. Rush

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