Recent events highlight need for localized food production

A series of recent events have demonstrated the need for more localized food production.

Bad weather in Spain and Morocco has caused shortages, prompting several British supermarket chains to limit the amount of some fresh fruits and vegetables that customers can buy. Likewise, in the U.S., some restaurants and stores have had difficulty sourcing leafy greens due to a disease that wiped out thousands of acres of crops in California. Prices have predictably climbed to the point where people are seeking out replacement veggies. Meanwhile, severe drought continues to plague traditional farming operations.

The vulnerabilities of the worldwide supply chain were exposed for all to see when the pandemic hit in February/March 2020. CSAs — community-supported agriculture programs — quickly gained in popularity. The veggies came from nearby farming operations, and consumers were glad to support local businesses while reducing the carbon footprint associated with transporting goods.

The USDA has put renewed focus on fledgling farms and recently opened up $133 million in grant funding to support the planning and implementation of regional and local farms. The Local Agriculture Market Program — or LAMP — intends to generate “new income for small, beginning and underserved farmers and improve food access for rural and urban communities.

Decentralized food production will be a larger part of our future, and investing in the infrastructure now will help stave off the types of crises we’re currently seeing. Agtech solutions enable people with no agricultural background to begin farming in the areas where nutrient-dense food is most needed.