urban agriculture
Photo credit: iStock.com/espiegle

Urban agriculture is the cultivation, processing, and distribution of agricultural products in both urban and suburban areas. Examples of urban agriculture includes community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponics facilities, and vertical production. In 2022, state lawmakers across the U.S. are introducing legislation related to urban agriculture, including providing funding and tax credits as well as studying it and creating state commissions to address urban agriculture.

Maryland: Grants for Urban Ag Fails in Senate

In Maryland, lawmakers introduced HB 1216 to support urban farming efforts. The legislation would have required non-profits that receive grants for urban agricultural producers to distribute 85% of the amount to low-income areas or food deserts, including 25% to producers in the City of Baltimore. The legislation further would have appropriated $250,000 annually for fiscal years 2024 through 2028.

While the bill passed with broad support in the House, it died in the Senate when the General Assembly adjourned. The Maryland Farm Bureau supported the legislation.

Missouri: Urban Agriculture Tax Credits Vetoed

Missouri state lawmakers in January 2022 introduced HB 1919, a bill that would among other things, give up to a 50% state tax credit for establishing an urban farm in a food desert. Expressly, the bill would authorize a taxpayer to claim a tax credit against their state tax liability in an amount equal to 50% of their eligible expenses for establishing an urban farm or improving an urban farm in an urban area that produces agricultural products used only for public distribution.

Separately, the state legislature passed, and Governor Mike Parson vetoed, HB 1720, which would have included a somewhat similar proposal amongst a broader package of agriculture related initiatives. The bill would have appropriated no more than $200,000 total and would have sunset the December 31st, two years after the bill’s effective date.  

New York: Urban Agriculture Study Bill Signed Into Law

Lawmakers in New York passed, and the governor signed into law, A07207A in December of 2021. The legislation directs the State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to conduct studies on urban farming techniques, specifically related to vertical farming, community gardens and urban farming. The goal of the bill and studies are to examine the impact urban agriculture would have on access to locally grown food, job creation, educational opportunities, and environmental impacts. The bill further requires the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to deliver a report within one year of the bill’s effective date to the governor and legislative leaders.

Further, the New York State Senate passed S8059A in March of 2022, which would establish the office of Urban Agriculture. The bill has not advanced in the Assembly as of July 18, 2022.

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