The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to put $52 million toward local and organic farming through farmers markets and organic research.
Local farmers are having difficulty marketing their produce, even though there’s increasingly high consumer demand for it. According to the New York Times, the funding is part of the Farm Bill signed by President Obama in February.
The $52 million is being distributed to the industry through five grant programs that were authorized through the Farm Bill. The grants will be distributed annually.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the funding at the Virginia State Fair, where farmer and business owner M. James Faison of Milton’s Local Harvest won a grant to help farmers producing pork and beef products market their goods more effectively.
According to the Times, the organic business sector will be getting $125 million over the next five years for research as well as $50 million for conservation. The USDA will also be allocating $30 million each year to marketing for local food and farmer’s markets. Another $70 million will go toward researching fruits and vegetables.
In an interview, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said funding local food systems are good business for the government since they generate new employment.