Friday, September 05, 2008

Food Security Funding on Hold Due to Farm Bill Red Tape

An error in legislative language has prevented the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from distributing nearly $5 million in Community Food Projects (CFP) grants to low-income communities this year.

The USDA awards competitive grants up to $300,000 to projects that improve community self-reliance in relation to food distribution and production. Imprecise wording in a section of the Farm Bill inhibits the dispersing of CFP funds in 2008: an error which food security experts are calling inadvertent, but unfortunate. “Through our advocacy on the Farm Bill, we are certain that it was the intent of Congress to ensure that there was not an interruption in funding for Community Food Projects,” said Andy Fisher, executive director of the Community Food Security Coalition. “Unfortunately the legislative language was not clear in this regard.”

Past CFP funded projects include community garden projects run by at-risk youth; a community kitchen network supporting micro-enterprise ventures for low-income community members; and supermarket development programs which aim to bring food access back to underserved communities.

Nearly a hundred Community Food Projects are in limbo as members of Congress attempt to repair the gaffe with a technical amendment to the errant section.

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