Local Food, Local Places: A Federal Partnership to Help Rural America Use Local Food and Build Local Economies

Today, the White House Rural Council Chairman USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Local Food, Local Places, a federal initiative providing direct technical support to rural communities to help them build strong local food systems as part of their community’s economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with local communities to develop comprehensive strategies that use local food systems to meet a variety of needs.

The announcement, made during the White House Rural Council’s first live-streamed meeting, included Vilsack, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chairman Earl Gohl, and Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill.

This is an exciting opportunity to meet a variety of goals important to the Obama Administration. Strong local food systems help rural farmers and businesses; improve access to healthy local food, particularly among disadvantaged groups with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables; and revitalize rural downtowns, main street districts, and neighborhoods. By achieving these goals, we can continue to strengthen rural economies, create jobs, and maintain America’s rural productivity for the future.

Applications to the Local Food, Local Places initiative are due July 15, 2014. Applicants will be evaluated on their commitment to USDA’s Seven Strategies for Economic Development and the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ Livability Principles, as well as their potential for success in:

  • Producing and distributing healthy local food;
  • Creating economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses;
  • Expanding access to healthy foods among disadvantaged members of the community;
  • Revitalizing existing downtowns, main streets, and neighborhoods; and
  • Partnering with local agricultural producers, business, government, transportation, education, and other relevant organizations.

This effort is just one example of the ways in which the Obama Administration supports local and regional food systems as a strategy to meet many critical goals in rural America. For more information about Local Food, Local Places and how to apply is here.

Doug McKalip is the Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs at the White House Domestic Policy Council.

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