Agriculture act includes micro-grants to support local foods

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which passed the U.S. Senate recently, includes the Micro-Grants for Food Security program to support Alaskans’ ability to grow their own food.

That provision, authored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is co-sponsored by Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, both D- Hawaii.

“Alaska imports over 90 percent of our food,” Murkowski said. “This results in high prices, especially in rural areas, and puts Alaskans at risk when transportation systems break down. While Congress funds many programs to support farmers and ranchers, there are few programs available to help individuals, tribes, communities or nonprofits to grow their own food.”

“Those that do exist have barriers that make it difficult for Alaskans to qualify for funds that will help them meet their needs. The Micro-Grants for Food Security program will help more Alaskans grow their own food in their own backyards,” she said.

The program authorizes grants to agricultural agencies in Alaska, Hawaii to address local food security needs, Agricultural agencies will provide grants of up to $5,000 to individuals and up to $10,000 to tribes, nonprofits, schools, job training programs and communities,

Those funds may be used for the purchase of tools, soil, seeds, plants, grow towers, composting units, hydroponic and aeroponic gardening systems and other necessities for growing and preserving food. The funds can also be used to expand areas under cultivation and extend the growing season to build or repair fencing for livestock, including reindeer, to participate in agricultural education, to create or expand sale of locally grown crops and meats, and to engage in other activities to increase food security.