On behalf of the White House Rural Council, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday announced Local Food, Local Places, a federal initiative that will provide technical support to rural communities for building local food systems as part of a larger economic plan.
Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with local communities to develop comprehensive strategies that use local food systems to meet a variety of needs.
The announcement included Vilsack, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and other regional representatives.
"Buying locally is one of the best things a community can do to grow its economy. Partnerships like Local Food, Local Places help rural leaders develop strategies for promoting farm products grown by people right in their own communities," Vilsack said.
"The demand for local food is growing rapidly nationwide, creating more opportunities for American farmers and ranchers and growing the entire country's rural economy."
During the White House Rural Council event, Secretary Vilsack also announced updated results from the USDA Farm to School Census.
According to the updates, U.S. school districts around the country purchased more than $386 million from local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers during the 2011-2012 school year.
The report also found that more than half of participating school districts report that they will buy even more local foods in future school years, and an additional 13% have plans to implement local food purchasing in the future.