Global supply chains are destabilizing. Americans’ access to nutritious plant foods is inequitable. In response, local food movements are on the rise.
The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production is uniquely positioned to empower local food projects in urban areas, thereby improving domestic food resiliency and public health.
Nov 19, 2021 Build Back Better Update:
GREAT NEWS! The reconciliation bill HR5376 passed the House on Nov 19, appropriating $62 million for FY2022. That’s nearly a 7X increase over FY 2021 of $9 million.
ACT NOW! – Tell your Senators to
“retain the provision allocating $62 million to the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production in the Senate version of the Build Back Better Act.”
The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production was authorized in the 2018 farm bill.
The mission of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production shall be to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices, including—Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018
“(A) community gardens and farms located in urban areas, suburbs, and urban clusters;
“(B) rooftop farms, outdoor vertical production, and green walls;
“(C) indoor farms, greenhouses, and high-tech vertical technology farms;
“(D) hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farm facilities; and
“(E) other innovations in agricultural production, as determined by the Secretary.
The Office of Urban Ag has the potential to accelerate the development of local, sustainable, plant-based food systems. But it’s …
2020 & 2021: Underfunded
In the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Congress authorized $25 million per year for the Office of Urban Ag. That means that each year, through the appropriations process, the Appropriations Committees have the option to fund UAIP up to $25 million for one year.
(f) Authorization Of Appropriations.—There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section and the amendments made by this section $25,000,000 for fiscal year 2019 and each fiscal year thereafterAgriculture Improvement Act of 2018
In 2020, these committees appropriated $5 million (of the $25 million allowable) for the establishment of UAIP at NRCS. $2 million went to administrative expenses, and $3 million were made available for grants.1
Yet, there’s a clear need for funding
The Congressional Research Service reports that in 2020, $3 million covered less than 5% of grant applications. 2
Even so, 2022 will be underfunded too
Fortunately, the latest agriculture appropriations bill explicitly allocates $9.5 million for 2022.3 But this is still much less than is needed.
In addition to more funding, here are two ways to improve UAIP
1. Pay UAIP advisors. AFA suggests that Congress make UAIP advisorships be paid positions. Otherwise, the USDA risks filtering out many experienced urban farmers. The best advisors are those who are so busy building up urban agriculture creations, they don’t have time for free volunteer work. We have in mind community leaders like Eugene Cook of Grow Where you Are and Malik Yakini of Detroit’s DBCFSN.
2. Offer matching grants for the purchase of health-code compliant food trucks so that community organizations like Fresh Approach in the Bay Area focused can bring more healthy fiber-rich foods to underprioritized communities on a regular basis.From AFA’s lobbying agenda for the next farm bill
Let’s tell our reps to fully fund the Office Urban Ag…
Especially if your representative is a member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee.
Don’t know who your rep is? No worries, type in your address at democracy.io to find out. As an example, consider New Haven, CT. This district’s Rep is Rosa DeLauro.
And would you look at that! Bingo – Rep DeLauro is the Chair of the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee. If you vote in any districts of members seated on the House Ag Appropriations committee, your request will be well placed. Simply ask them to appropriate the full $25 million to the Office of Urban Agriculture next year.
Let’s do this!
Step 1: Craft your email
We recommend you write your own email in your own words. That said, here is a letter you are welcome to use as a starting point:
Dear Representative ________,
I’m writing to ask that you fund the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (UAIP) in the coming year for the full amount authorized in the latest farm bill: $25 million.
I’m worried about global supply chain disruptions and inequitable access to fiber-rich fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s my view that the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production has the potential to directly improve domestic food resiliency and public health. As such, it should be funded to the maximum.
In the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Congress authorized $25 million per year for the Office of UAIP. Yet, in 2020, UAIP only awarded $3 million in grants, and $4 million for 2021. The Congressional Research Service reports that in 2020, this covered less than 5% of grant applications.4 In other words, demand greatly outstrips funding. While the 2022 agriculture appropriations bill makes strides toward delivering more funding, allocating $9.5 million for 2022,5 this is still not enough. I urge you to appropriate the full $25 million for 2023.
Tip: make one clear request;
do not tack other issues onto this letter.
If you have multiple requests to make, space them out and send one email for each topic. You want your rep to focus on one communication at a time in order to make sure your message gets tallied properly.
Step 2: Send the request to your Rep
For this exercise, you’re simply sending a letter to your Member of Congress (MoC) in the House of Representatives. Once a sister bill is introduced in the Senate, we’ll post another action alert.
Further Reading about UAIP
- UAIP Grants 2020 -2021
- USDA Urban Agriculture Toolkit (PDF, 8.5 MB)
- Fact Sheet: NRCS and Urban Agriculture (PDF, 4 MG)
- AMS Urban Agriculture Website
- Farming in the City video
- FY2020 Appropriations for Agricultural Conservation ( crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46011/2#page=13 )