Washington, D.C. – The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) has been selected to administer a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiative meant to bolster the supply chain to connect local farmers with the growing demand for local and regional food.
The USDA announced Thursday that COG is one of 10 organizations from across the U.S. selected for FoodLINC (Leveraging Investment for Network Coordination), a new, three-year initiative to strengthen each region’s local food business sector while expanding consumer access to healthy, local food. The $3 million dollar initiative is funded by the USDA in partnership with 15 philanthropic organizations.
According to the USDA, the federal government has been making significant infrastructure investments to enhance food systems. However, without parallel “on the ground” improvements in areas such as supplier/buyer communication or food aggregation and distribution, the potential of these investments may not be realized.
The Washington agricultural region is home to more than 12,000 farms, and there has been a growing interest in the availability of locally sourced food from consumers, retailers, institutions, and many others.
As part of the FoodLINC initiative, COG will bring a full time Regional Food Systems Value Chain Coordinator on board to work with a range of stakeholders along the region’s food value chain, increasing the flow of local products from farm to plate.
COG’s vision plan, Region Forward, incorporates food systems goals such as farmland protection and increasing the availability of food grown and consumed in the region. The Regional Food Systems Value Chain Coordinator will also be working toward these goals with COG’s Regional Agricultural Workgroup (RAW). The Workgroup is comprised of representatives from COG member governments, area farms, and nonprofits. It aims to protect and promote economically viable agriculture in the region, and maintain a network of agriculture professionals, local farmers, farmers markets, businesses, and others. It also functions as a forum for disseminating agricultural information among members, as well as the broader COG community of area leaders, businesses, and citizens.
Learn more about the initiative.