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Rush Introduces Legislation to Establish Two New Urban Agriculture Programs, Boost Urban Ag Nationwide

September 10, 2021

Bill is supported by Chicago-based Urban Growers Collective and Advocates for Urban Agriculture, and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, announced the introduction of the Urban Agriculture and Community Food Security Act (H.R. 5173), legislation that would establish two new programs to bolster urban agriculture in communities across the nation.  Joining Rep. Rush in introducing the legislation were U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).

The Urban Agriculture Conservation Easement Program, authorized at $20 million annually, would protect urban lands for food production and conservation and ensure affordable long-term access to lands for agricultural uses.  The Urban Agriculture Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, authorized at $3 million annually, would provide small-dollar loans and grants to support the development and ongoing success of urban agriculture microenterprises.  The legislation would also provide a $15 million annual boost to the Community Food Project Grant Program, which is designed to fight food insecurity in low-income communities.

“Urban agriculture is the future of agriculture, and Chicago is already leading the way,” said Rep. Rush.  “This legislation will provide a needed boost to urban agriculture programs across the nation, making it easier for individuals to protect land for urban farming and obtain funding for urban agriculture enterprises.  Investing in urban agriculture can help us make tremendous progress towards addressing food insecurity and the public health issues that result from a lack of healthy food, which are prevalent in too many communities in the Chicagoland area, and particularly in communities of color.  I am proud to be a champion of urban agriculture in the House Agriculture Committee, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this legislation forward.”

Urban farming has grown by more than 30 percent in the United States in the past 30 years.  A recent study found that, if fully implemented in cities around the world, urban agriculture could produce as much as 180 million metric tons of food per year.  Chicago is home to a robust community of urban food producers, with hundreds of urban agriculture sites, including a number of large urban farms.

The Urban Agriculture and Community Food Security Act is supported by groups including the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Urban Growers Collective, Advocates for Urban Agriculture, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).

Here is what they had to say about the bill:

“In the darkest days of the pandemic, urban growers in Chicago and cities across the country kept people fed when we needed it most.  They expanded what people believed was possible in local food production.  Congressmen Rush's proposal builds on their momentum with resources urban growers need most — land and capital to expand and grow their operations,” said Liz Moran Stelk, Executive Director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

“Basing a climate conscious and resilient economy in the growing, processing, and distribution of food for and by the people who are most impacted by food insecurity is not only fiscally responsible, but logical on all fronts,” said Erika Allen, Co-Founder of Urban Growers Collective and CEO of Programs and Development Strategy of Urban Growers Collective, and Laurell Sims, Co-Founder and CEO of Finance for Urban Growers Collective.  “We have an opportunity to collectively embrace climate resilient food systems now, before climate crises accelerate.  And we have an obligation to democratize and decarbonize our cities' economies through a lens of Food Equity to collectively embrace the cooperative, pre-migration rural heritages that can re-envision agriculture as a tool to reinforce Public Health and Safety, while also generating equitable economic innovations and new agricultural entrepreneurs.”

“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) applauds Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) for introducing the Urban Agriculture and Community Food Security Act,” said Wes King on behalf of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  “Stable long-term access to land and scale-appropriate financial capital are some of the biggest barriers to realizing community food security and entrepreneurial potential of community-based urban agriculture.  The Urban Agriculture and Community Food Security Act focuses directly on addressing and dismantling those barriers, and unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit. NSAC looks forward to working with Representative Rush and Congress to advance this bold proposal.”

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