Monday, July 24, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC [7/24/23] – Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Andrea Salinas (OR-6), and Senators Ron Wyden (OR) and Jeff Merkley (OR) applaud the Biden-Harris Administration’s nearly $1.5 million investment in a new Urban Service Center to help urban farmers and strengthen local food systems in the Pacific Northwest.

The Urban Service Center will be located in Portland, Oregon, and administered by staff from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The Center will offer farm loan, conservation, disaster assistance, and risk management programs. Ecotrust, a Portland-based environmental nonprofit organization, will partner with the Center to improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) outreach to urban producers, provide education and technical assistance, and increase program enrollment. The Urban Service Center in Portland will serve Oregon and parts of Washington and is one of 17 that will be opened across the country.

“Urban farms in Northwest Oregon connect more people to locally grown, healthy food,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Unfortunately, many urban area producers face barriers to getting their products on the market and often lack the resources that large-scale producers enjoy. This new Urban Service Center will help level the playing field for urban producers and foster new opportunities for beginning farmers. Our entire region will benefit from this investment, which will build resiliency in our food system, increase access to healthy and fresh food, enhance sustainability, and boost local economies.”

“Urban farms can play a significant grow-local role in fighting hunger as a perfect complement to Oregon’s traditional rural farms, both of which benefit from our state’s many natural advantages for growing world-renowned fruits and vegetables,” Senator Ron Wyden. “I’m glad my hometown has secured this federal investment that will reap huge gains for farmers in Portland and other cities throughout Oregon as well as the entire Northwest.”

“Oregon-grown products are healthy, fresh, and support local jobs,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “This crucial funding will ensure farmers are able to access regional markets, and families can buy healthy food grown nearby.”

“The pandemic demonstrated the immense value and resilience of the local food system,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. “While large agribusiness was completely stymied by brittle supply chains, local food economies with shorter supply chains thrived. This funding is a worthy investment that will pay for itself many times over in benefits to human health and local food businesses.” 

“I’m grateful that the Biden Administration will invest in Ecotrust,” said Congresswoman Andrea Salinas. “Organizations like these are critical to creating economic opportunity, protecting our environment, and ensuring food access for all. This grant will make key investments in that important mission, allowing Ecotrust to continue to innovate and reimagine a truly equitable Oregon.”

More than 2,300 USDA Service Centers currently provide farmers and ranchers one-stop access to programs through the FSA, NRCS, and the Rural Development agencies. The Urban Service Centers will now extend this essential outreach and assistance to urban agriculture.

In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress first recognized the need to foster this growing sector within USDA by establishing the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. Continuing this commitment in the American Rescue Plan, Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration have secured $40 million in investments to expand agricultural innovation and strengthen our food supply chain with urban farming.

More information about the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments in urban agriculture can be found here.

As a member of the Congressional Hunger Caucus, Congresswoman Bonamici has long supported evidence-based solutions to end hunger, expand access to nutritious foods, and bolster our nation’s food system. Urban farms can help reduce food insecurity and combat food waste, which is especially important for those who live in low-income and historically marginalized communities where food deserts exist and access to affordable and healthy food is limited. You can learn more about Congresswoman Bonamici’s work to end hunger here.