Regional Food Systems

American agriculture has faced increasingly difficult circumstances in recent years. As metropolitan areas expand, farmland is growing scarcer. Furthermore, energy costs are rising, and consequently farming is becoming more expensive. At the same time, America faces a growing obesity problem, and an increasing number of citizen have limited or no access to healthy, fresh foods. Many government, nonprofit and regional planning organizations (RPOs) have initiated programs to address these problems by connecting local food producers with local consumers and facilitating a market for local food products. RPOs across the country study and implement programs and policies to strengthen their regional “food systems;” all of the processes and infrastructure that go into the production, storage, processing, transportation, marketing, and distribution of local food.

Food Systems Policy Brief

Regional councils have been involved in various food system initiatives, including research, land use planning, infrastructure planning, and food sector economic development. On a national level, the U.S. Farm Bill is the most influential federal food and agriculture legislation that can either promote or hinder the market to expand local and regional food systems. The 2008 Farm Bill made unprecedented investments in bolstering the local food market through the Rural Development Title. These investments are under consideration during current reauthorization activities. Lawmakers have the opportunity to continue to invest in small and local farms and communities.

For more information on Farm Bill Reauthorization, see the NARC issue page HERE.

NARC Member Case Studies

Food Systems Resources

NARC Resources

Federal Resources

Healthy Food Financing Initiative

U. S. Department of Agriculture

 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Non-Profit Resources

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