Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Speak on Local and Regional Foods at Food Tank Summit

WASHINGTON, April 20 2016 – TODAY, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will discuss USDA’s investment in local and regional foods at the Second Annual Food Tank Summit at American University.

As consumer interest in “buying local” blossomed at the start of the Obama Administration, USDA recognized a growing need to support farmers, small businesses and communities interested in taking advantage of this new market opportunity by making strong investments and creating a number of helpful tools.

Between 2009 and 2015, USDA has invested over $1 billion in more than 40,000 local and regional food businesses/infrastructure projects and made more than $11.5 million available to assist organic operations. As a result, the number of domestic certified organic operations has increased by almost 12 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Today, more than 160,000 farmers and ranchers nationwide are selling into local markets, from farmers markets and CSAs to local restaurants, grocery stores and institutions, generating huge returns for local communities.

Industry estimates show U.S. local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008, and experts anticipate that value to hit $20 billion by 2019. These opportunities are helping to drive job growth in agriculture, increase entrepreneurship in rural communities and expand food access and choice.

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