Senator Stabenow Introduces Urban Agriculture Act of 2016
This fall, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow announced plans to introduce the Urban Agriculture Act of 2016, legislation that would support urban farming initiatives and increase access to healthy food. “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.”Michigan's urban agriculture leaders are hopeful that the Act will increase the number of urban farms in Michigan and around the country. “We have an abundance of available land in Detroit and groups like D-Town Farms are putting it to productive use in a way that promotes good health and economic opportunity,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “I hope that Sen. Stabenow's bill will help efforts like this expand and allow others to follow in their footsteps." Malik Yakini, Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, commented, “As we rethink how we provide food in an environmentally sustainable way for an increasingly urban population, urban agriculture is an important component. Growing food closer to centers of population-density not only provides people with fresher, more nutrient-rich foods but also reduces the carbon released into the atmosphere by transporting food long distances. Finally, urban agriculture, and the associated businesses needed to support it, helps local economies to thrive. We appreciate Senator Stabenow's awareness of the great importance and potential of urban agriculture.”
Specifically, the bill would create new economic opportunities through agriculture cooperatives, encouraging rooftop and vertical farms, and invest millions of dollars for cutting-edge research to explore market opportunities and technologies for lowering energy and water needs. It would also provide new financial tools and support for urban farmers by expanding farm loan programs, providing affordable risk management tools to protect against crop losses, and create a new urban ag office at USDA. Furthermore, it invests $5 million for the development of community gardens, expands resources for technical and financial support to test and clean up contaminated soils and creates a pilot program for urban composting.