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Minnesota Grants May Bolster Urban Farming's Legitimacy

For the first time, the state of Minnesota is offering money specifically for urban agriculture, in a win for urban farmers who want to challenge the notion that agriculture is necessarily a rural enterprise.
October 10, 2018, 10am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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David Barrie

Though relatively modest, Minnesota's new urban agriculture grants may nurture a change in perceptions. Taryn Phaneuf writes, "Advocates said state investment is crucial because it lends credibility to what [one grant recipient] calls the 'changing face of agriculture.' Such state funding, even a small amount, can usher in a shift toward seeing urban areas as potential farms and their residents as fellow food producers."

The legislation that established the new grants took several years to get passed, primarily though the efforts of bill author Karen Clark (DFL-Minneapolis). Grants total $10 million a year, and they're funded through Minnesota's Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation program (known as AGRI), which supports agriculture and renewable energy in the state.

While the grants are only guaranteed through next year, advocates hope urban agriculture will retain its seat at the state table. Phaneuf elaborates: "A local food system – which includes everything from growing food to processing it to buying and consuming it – also creates jobs, income, and infrastructure. That’s the mindset used to justify public spending on agriculture development in Greater Minnesota, like one that helps farmers modernize their livestock operations by, say, expanding their facilities to hold more animals."

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Published on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 in MinnPost
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