“Urban agriculture dates back centuries, and growing food in cities is nothing new. Nowadays, what started as a movement in many inner cities as a way to grow food in empty lots in underserved communities has amassed into a global enterprise thanks to technology. Land based agriculture continues to grow as well in innovative ways through technology such as greenhouses, roof tops, hydro and aquaponics.
It has been predicted that by 2050, two billion more people will be added to the world’s population of 7.8 billion, most of whom will live in cities. The USDA must be in partnership with those who are evaluating the need for food production as well as those analyzing growing techniques required to feed a growing economy. COVID-19 has demonstrated that people not only want to know where their food comes from, but want to be able to grown their own food safely, no matter how small the space they have.
The USDA has a unique opportunity to support this growing economy and must see to it that everyone has an opportunity to grow food that is safe and healthy; no matter how small the space or large the enterprise. The opportunity lies before us to encourage innovation, job creation, and enterprise. As we continue to battle hunger, poverty, and now COVID, the USDA must support and provide resources to those in urban areas working to feed people, as well as with the desire to build a local food economy. In the end, who will benefit? We all will.”
– Karen Washington
Are you an urban farmer? Do you use innovative technology to grow, like vertical farming? Do you want to lead USDA’s work to do better outreach to growers like you?
USDA is seeking members for a new advisory committee on urban agriculture and innovative production, part of a broader effort to focus on the needs of these farmers that started in the last Farm Bill. Advisory committees are one of the formal ways that stakeholders like you can engage on how U.S. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) implements programs. There are several advisory committees in the USDA and in other agencies that impact you as a young farmer and food system stakeholder.
This 12-person committee will advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the development of policies and outreach relating to urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices as well as identify any barriers to urban agriculture per the Natural Resources Conservation Service explanation.
USDA is seeking nominations for individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertises in urban agriculture like:
- Four agricultural producers (two agricultural producers in an urban area or urban cluster and two agricultural producers who use innovative technology).
- Two representatives from an institution of higher education or extension program.
- One representative of a nonprofit organization, which may include a public health, environmental or community organization.
- One representative of business and economic development, which may include a business development entity, a chamber of commerce, a city government or a planning organization.
- One individual with supply chain experience, which may include a food aggregator, wholesale food distributor, food hub or an individual who has direct-to-consumer market experience.
- One individual from a financing entity.
- Two individuals with related experience or expertise in urban, indoor and other emerging agriculture production practices, as determined by the Secretary.
Members of the committee usually serve 2 to 3 years and have 4 meetings a year, usually quarterly. There is no compensation or stipend for this position.
Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified individuals for membership. Self-nominations are also welcome. The National Young Farmers Coalition will be happy to nominate members and supporters and write them a letter of recommendation for their nomination packages.
What you need to apply:
- A cover letter
- Background Form
Nomination packages must be submitted by mail or email by March 5, 2021. They should be addressed to Ronald Harris, Designated Federal Officer, Director of Outreach and Partnerships, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 6006-S, Washington, D.C. 20250, or emailed to Ronald.Harris@usda.gov.
If you need support applying and/or would like a recommendation letter from the National Young Farmers Coalition, please get in touch with our Federal Policy Associate Vanessa at vanessa@youngfarmers. She will provide technical assistance to support you in the application process. Vanessa will be hosting an office hour to answer your questions about applying on Thursday, January 28th between 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm ET.
You can click the button below to receive updates about applying to the USDA Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee and sign up for office hours.