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The USDA Is Putting $34.3 Million Into Local Food Projects. Will It Be Enough?

The recent Department of Agriculture announcement that it would allocate $34.3 million to support local food systems was met with skepticism by many in the sustainable farming and food justice movements. Many organizations doing food systems work in the most vulnerable communities find USDA grants too competitive, bureaucratic, short-term, and daunting to be worth the effort.

The USDA has historically been unsupportive, and even injurious, to sustainable local food systems, and has been criticized for subsidizing commodity crops, like corn and soybeans, which favors large-scale industrial farming and results in a market flooded with cheap processed foods. The agency has also been implicated in decades of discrimination against the nation’s most vulnerable farmers—African-Americans, Latinos, and women.

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