Dr. Sally Brown, Research Professor at the University of Washington (UW) and long-time BioCycle Connection’s columnist, was among 12 members selected by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to serve on USDA’s inaugural Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture. Committee members will provide input on policy development and help identify barriers to urban agriculture as USDA works to promote urban farming and the economic opportunities it provides in cities across the country. The new Secretary’s Advisory Committee is part of USDA’s initiatives to support urban agriculture, creating a network for feedback. “Urban agriculture plays an important role in producing fresh, healthy food in areas where grocery stores are scarce, and also provides jobs and beautifies neighborhoods,” noted Vilsack. “It has been growing in impact and importance, and we are taking bold actions to build a support structure. I look forward to learning how we can better serve urban agricultural producers, which will complement our efforts focusing on equity, local food systems, access to safe and nutritional food and new ways to address climate change.”
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, was the architect of the Urban Agriculture Act of 2016. The Act laid the groundwork for historic investments to address the needs of urban farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill, including the Secretary’s Advisory Committee. “With every new urban farm, rooftop garden, and indoor crop, urban agriculture is helping create jobs, increase green space, and feed friends and neighbors,” said Senator Stabenow. “This is a historic opportunity to have their voices heard and shape urban agriculture for the future.”
The Committee members represent urban growers, academics, extension programs, nonprofits, business and economic development, supply chains and financing. USDA and the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production peer reviewed more than 300 nominees, and Vilsack made the final selections. Selections ensured geographic, racial and gender diversity and a broad range of agricultural experience. The new members will serve terms of one to three years. Dr. Brown is a soil scientist and on the faculty of UW’s Environmental and Forest Sciences. Her experience spans the spectrum from chef to soil remediator using biosolids to championing creation of healthy soils for urban agriculture using recycled organics. Dr. Brown was a co-editor of a 2-volume book, Sowing Seeds in the City (Springer, 2016). Her BioCycle columns are archived at this link.
The first meeting of this inaugural committee, which will be open to the public, takes place in late February. More details will be available in the Federal Register and this link, and via the new USDA Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture website.