On Monday, September 29, the United States Department of Agriculture is expected to announce that it will spend $52 million on a program supporting local food systems and organic farming research, reports The New York Times.
Although consumer interest in food sourcing has helped the local and organic food movement turn into one of the fastest-growing markets, farmers themselves are still in need of better resources to market and distribute their goods.
Despite a dramatic increase in farmers markets around the country (there are a remarkable 76 percent more today than in 2008, according to the Agriculture Department), “grocery stores and restaurants largely rely on big distribution centers and are only beginning to figure out how to incorporate small batches of produce into their overall merchandise mixes,” writes The New York Times.
The USDA’s investment — which will grow to include $125 million in research, $50 million in conservation programs, and more in marketing programs and specialty crop research — is designed to help foster the growth of local food systems all over the country. The resources will also help local systems provide more employment opportunities in the rural communities they support.
“These types of local food systems are the cornerstones of our plans to revitalize the rural economy,” Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, said in a telephone interview with The New York Times.
“If you can connect local produce with markets that are local, money gets rolled around in the local community more directly compared to commercial agriculture where products get shipped in large quantities somewhere else, helping the economy there.”
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.