Murkowski Secures Micro-Grants to Support Locally Grown Food
Providing Big Boost to Small-scale Gardening, Herding, and Livestock Operations
The U.S. Senate recently passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Included in this bill is a provision Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) authored—the Micro-Grants for Food Security program—that creates a new grant to help support Alaskans’ ability to grow their own food. U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) co-sponsored the provision.
“Alaska imports over 90 percent of our food. 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,” said Senator Murkowski.
“Addressing food insecurity can be difficult, especially in a state like Alaska, with its many unique challenges. We are thrilled with Senator Murkowski’s proposal to allow for micro-grants as an innovative solution to addressing food security in Alaska. Many of our partners in the anti-hunger community would like to build their capacity, but don’t have the resources to do so,” said Food Bank of Alaska CEO Jim Baldwin. “Whether it’s purchasing a refrigerator to store fresh produce, buying canning equipment to preserve locally harvested food, or participating in a training to support efforts to start a community garden, these mini-grants provide numerous opportunities for communities across the state to increase access to local, healthy foods. We applaud Senator Murkowski for her commitment and vision in addressing food security in our state, and will support these efforts moving forward in any way we can.”
Authorizes grants to agricultural agencies in Alaska, Hawaii, and the insular areas 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.
Funds may be used to purchase tools, soil, seeds, plants, grow towers, composting units, hydroponic and aeroponic gardening systems, and other necessities for growing and preserving food; 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 the sale of locally-grown crops and meats; and engage in other activities to increase food security.
$10 million per year is authorized, of which Alaska would receive $4 million.
The Micro-Grants for Food Security program was part of Senator Murkowski’s “Food Security, Housing, and Sanitation Improvements in Rural, Remote, and Frontier Areas Act of 2018”. This legislation also included reauthorization of a number of existing programs important to Alaskans such as programs related to clean water and wastewater systems, trade, and food security that were also included in the Agriculture Improvement Act.