Farming and Rural-Urban Partnerships

Farming and Rural-Urban Partnerships
A Talk by Dr. Glenda Humston
To the Environmental Concerns Committee
Sept. 10, 2012
Reported by Gail Schickele, Co-Chair  

Finding Sustainability in Rural-Urban Partnerships was the subject of a PowerPoint talk by Dr. Glenda Humiston, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in an address to Natural Resources E-Concerns Sept. 10.  State Director for California Rural Development (RD), Humiston said RD provides funding for business & cooperatives development; community facilities and rural utilities; water, sewer & solid waste systems; and single and multi-family housing. With a portfolio of $6.2 billion, RD also provides loans, guaranteed loans, grants, and technical assistance.

Building partnerships and reducing conflict between urban and rural area is crucial, Humiston said, addressing such basic issues as spray, dust, noise, odor, traffic, pets, invasive species and vandalism/theft.

In the Sacramento region, The Rural-Urban Connections Strategy focus includes land use and conservation policies and plans that shape rural areas; the infrastructure of agriculture and challenges to the production process; economic opportunitiesforest management to build economic and environmental value; and regulations to navigate federal and state environmental guidelines.

While agriculture is no longer among the top three sectors in California, it’s still a significant component of the state’s economy and the second largest industry in the San Joaquin Valley. California produces over 400 commodities, employing 370,000 people, and accounting for almost $35 billion dollars in direct sales, according to the report on Jobs, Economic Development and Sustainable Communities: Policy Needs for Rural California, as overseen by Humiston.  California’s agriculture faces many challenges including: the aging farmer, rancher and fisherman; pest infestations; global competition; incompatible adjacent land uses; increasingly complex environmental regulations; and reduced access to skilled workers at peak seasons. Ag production is also highly vulnerable to natural resource inputs, such as access to water, according to the report.

There is growing policy support for regional food systems, Humiston offered. In January the U.S. Conference of Mayors created a Task Force on Food Policy as a vehicle to recognize the lead role mayors are taking in developing strategies related to reducing obesity; increasing access to healthy, affordable food in low-income communities; increasing local food procurement in cities; and other strategies for promoting food-related economic development – from food trucks to small business incubators.

Agriculture can be a source of both environmental degradation and vital environmental services, but one thing is certain: agriculture is the key to food security and continues to be the main source of rural development in much of the world and vital for international trade among industrialized countries.

For more information, Glenda Humiston, State Director,
California Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
430 G Street, Agency 4169, Davis, CA 95616,
Phone: 530-792-5800

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