Urban Agriculture Act of 2016 Includes Soil Assessment Survey
Given the turmoil presented by the presidential election in November, you are forgiven if you glossed over Senator Debbie Stabenow introducing the Urban Agriculture Act of 2016 on September 28, 2016 and the accompanying announcement of the bill’s introduction with Mayor Mike Duggan at press conference at D-Town Farm in Detroit. According to Senator Stabenow, the bill, which is the first comprehensive urban agriculture bill to be introduced in Congress, will help create new economic opportunities by promoting urban agriculture and in turn will give families greater access to healthy food and create healthier environments in cities. However, while the introduction of the first urban agriculture bill in Congress is exciting, it is worth examining whether it will contribute to achieving its stated purposes and if there are other unmet policy needs to promote urban agriculture. To engage in this analysis, we must analyze the bill as well as whether it will address the variety of policy barriers facing urban growers.
At the outset, it is important to note that the proposed Urban Agriculture Act of 2016 is not a do-nothing bill. It is 43 pages and provides the development of a governmental infrastructure to develop urban agriculture policy and guidance, grant funding for the development and enhancement of community gardens, a program to assist for-profit urban farms, a program to assist growers in assessing urban soils for potential contamination, and a program to conduct more research on urban agriculture across the country. Below is a full list of the offices, committees, programs, and initiatives to be implemented pursuant to the Urban Agriculture Bill of 2016 as it is currently drafted: