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Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network. Learn more here.

USDA to Use Rural Development Money for Local Food Connections

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Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media
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Recognizing that the demand for local food is growing to between $5 and 7 billion a year, the USDA announced a new effort aimed at connecting farmers with urban shoppers.

"We know that there are a number of opportunities that exist in urban centers to expand local food production and promotion," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said.

That's why certain urban projects will now be eligible for Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans. The loan program has long been a part of the farm bill as a Rural Development program, but it has been previously limited to rural recipients.

Now, Vilsack says a food hub that connects city institutions to local food prodcuers is one example of an urban project that could be eligible.

"If you’re going to be using USDA resources," Vilsack said, "[the project] has to have a connection, a financial and legitimate connection, to rural areas and that is why there is the condition that there has to be some linkage to rural productions and producers."

The market for local food has skyrocketed over the last two decades and USDA priorities reflect that. The $78 million in this year’s farm bill is the biggest ever federal boost to local food programs.

Vilsack said funding local food projects promotes three of his department's goals: expanding market opportunties for small and mid-sized farms, increasing access to nutritious food that has a smaller carbon footprint and creating jobs in rural communities to help grow their economies.