USDA Funds Healthier Water and Healthier Food Systems


It’s the USDA to the rescue! Well, kind of. The algal blooms in Lake Erie brought forth a lot of criticism of industrial agriculture, and today, the USDA announced that it is putting resources towards some of those problems.

The press release says that $2 million will be allocated to conservation efforts like planting cover crops, with another $1 million coming from the non-profit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This is good news, though it is worth mentioning that the conservation measures will be, as always, voluntary, and that the USDA has been pumping money into programs like this in Lake Erie for some time now. Regardless, according to the press release, big conservation management efforts are afoot for the region:

Along with its ongoing conservation efforts that have contributed $46 million since 2009, in May the Great Lakes Basin was also designated by Vilsack as a critical conservation area, or CCA, in the new 2014 Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program. That new program will invest $1.2 billion in innovative conservation efforts through partnerships with non-federal entities, who are expected to match the federal investment for a total of $2.4 billion in conservation resources.”

And there’s other USDA funding news that may hit closer to home: $25 million will be allocated as Value Added Producer Grants intended for small and rural businesses to create value added products to sell locally.

The funding we are announcing today will have far-reaching, positive impacts in rural communities across the country," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, adding that the 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program. "The investments will help businesses create new products, expand their operations, and support local and regional food systems.”

PHOTO: Tom Whitten on flickr


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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