The 2018 Farm Bill (H.R.2) passed both the House and Senate and will be signed into law by the President imminently. The Bill creates the USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production which should boost aquaponics, hydroponics, and other sustainable growing methods.
The Bill establishes the Office “to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production
practices.” Related to this new Office, the Bill:
- Provides for the assignment of a farm number for rooftop, indoor, and other urban farms.
- Provides authority to award competitive grants to operate community gardens or
nonprofit farms, educate a community on food systems, nutrition, environmental impacts,
and agricultural production, and help offset start-up costs for new and beginning farmers.
- Establishes an Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee.
- Establishes pilot projects to increase compost and reduce food waste, and create urban
and suburban county committees.
In addition to the Office for Urban Agriculture, the Farm Bill also establishes the Urban, Indoor, and Other Emerging Agriculture Production Research, Education, and Extension Initiative. This Initiative does the following:
- Authorizes competitive research and extension grants to support research, education, and
extension activities for the purposes of enhancing urban, indoor, and other emerging
- Provides $4 million mandatory for each fiscal year 2019-2023.
- Requires the Secretary to conduct a census of urban, indoor, and other emerging
Unfortunately, there is plenty of bad along with the good: this Farm Bill continues negative policies that stifle smaller growers and wastefully support large industrial monoculture growers. Nevertheless, it is welcome to see the Federal Government acknowledging the need for investment in urban and sustainable growing.
Hopefully the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production can meaningfully support the expansion of aquaponics!
Brian Filipowich serves as Chairman of the Aquaponics Association