Lessons from the Northeast Kingdom on local agriculture

While the USDA and the Obama administration are moving in the direction of doing more to help the local food movement, supporting industrial-scale agriculture remains a priority at the federal level. The financial and political clout of agribusiness in Washington ensures that.

However, as with so many other public policy issues, the most support for local agriculture is at the levels of local and state government.

At his Vermont News Guy site, Jon Margolis reports on the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (www.vsjf.org). The fund, created by the state legislature, is about to release a draft proposal on what the farm and food sector in the state might look like in 10 years.

This report is part of VSJF’s Farm to Plate Initiative, which collected input from more than 1,000 Vermonters over the past year at eight regional summits, 24 focus groups, a statewide summit, and six day-long working sessions.

According to the VSJF website, the goal is “to create a strategic plan for agricultural economic development to achieve the overarching goals of strengthening our local food system and stimulating economic development in Vermont’s farm and food sector.” …

According to the VSJF, jobs throughout the entire Vermont food system represent 20 percent — or 54,334 — of all private-sector jobs and are connected to 31 percent — or 9,166 — of all private establishments.

Consumers are more and more interested in knowing where their food came from and  in supporting the people who made it. This interest in producing and consuming locally grown food has made local agriculture more economically viable.

The story of Hardwick, the little town in the Northeast Kingdom  has become a national example of how local food can revive a struggling economy.

(Full Article) http://www.commonsnews.org/site/site02/story.php?articleno=1942&page=2

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