Time Ripe For Urban Agriculture  

Posted by Big Gav

Energy Bulletin has a good article up on promoting urban agriculture.

Is America ready for a metropolitan agriculture policy? Is the time ripe to take some of the billions in subsidies now flowing to big commodity-crop operators and focus instead on sustainable farm production in and around the citistate regions where 80 percent of us live?

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and the man who founded Congress' Livability Caucus, argues that with half of federal farm subsidies currently "flowing to six states to produce 13 commodities that in the main we don't need, like corn, wheat, cotton, and rice," there's a dramatically superior alternative.

We should, says Blumenauer, "use that money to build sustainable agriculture, create a farmer's market in every community, help farmers protect our land and water, preserve our watersheds, foster land banks and control erosion."

Historically, he argues, our metropolitan regions weren't just centers of commerce but areas of fertile fields, often in lush river valleys. Even today, they have some of America's best land for sustainable agriculture. "With small diversions from the agriculture bill," argues Blumenauer, "we could provide grants for communities to develop year-round farmers' markets" and help local producers provide fresh vegetables and fruits, high-quality cheeses, honeys, nuts and more.

It's not hard to dismiss Blumenauer's idea. Small-scale agriculture has been losing out to big (and increasingly subsidized) farm operations for decades. This winter, the Bush administration quickly retreated from its proposal to significantly trim payouts to the mega-producers.

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