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White House Rural Council Announces New “Local Foods, Local Places” Initiative in Virtual Forum on Regional Food Economies

June 2014


On Monday, June 9, 2014, White House Rural Council Chair and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new federal Local Foods, Local Places initiative providing technical support to rural communities to help them build strong local food systems as part of their community's economic development plans. The announcement was made during a virtual stakeholder forum hosted by the White House Rural Council on local food systems' emerging role as economic drivers in rural communities and the federal resources available to support their development. Participating agency leaders included Vilsack; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe; ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl; and Delta Regional Authority (DRA) Federal Co-Chair Chris Massingill. [Video of the forum is available on the White House YouTube channel.]

Through the Local Foods, Local Places initiative, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with local communities to develop comprehensive strategies for local food systems that will help boost economic opportunities for rural farmers and businesses; improve access to healthy local food, and revitalize rural downtowns, main street districts, and neighborhoods. These efforts will continue the administration's work to strengthen rural economies, create jobs, and maintain America's rural productivity. Selected communities in Appalachia and the Delta region will be eligible to receive financial assistance to help them implement their plans developed through the initiative.

Local Foods, Local Places is supported by ARC, USDA, EPA, DOT, and DRA, which together will invest $650,000 in the program. The initiative builds on the ARC-EPA-USDA Livable Communities in Appalachia partnership, which works to promote economic development, preserve rural lands, and increase access to locally grown food in Appalachian towns and rural communities.

Detailed information about Local Foods, Local Places and how to apply for assistance is available from the White House Web site (PDF: 300 KB). Applications are due July 15, 2014.

Applicants will be evaluated on their commitment to USDA's Seven Strategies for Economic Development and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities' Livability Principles, as well as their potential for success in:

  • Producing and distributing healthy local food;
  • Creating economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses;
  • Expanding access to healthy foods among disadvantaged members of the community;
  • Revitalizing existing downtowns, main streets, and neighborhoods; and
  • Partnering with local agricultural producers, business, government, transportation, education, and other relevant organizations.
The White House Rural Council is a cabinet-level council established by President Obama in 2011 to drive job creation and economic development in rural America. The council coordinates the administration's efforts in rural America by streamlining and improving the effectiveness of federal programs serving rural areas; engaging stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers, and local citizens, on issues and solutions in rural communities; and promoting and coordinating private-sector partnerships.