Investing Recovery Funds for a Resilient Local Food System

Thanks for joining us for our webinar discussing ARPA and how local governments could invest
their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). You can view the recording here if you weren’t able to make it to the webinar!

On March 11 President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law to aid public health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. State and local governments in Maryland are receiving a total of $6.4 billion which includes funding for flood mitigation, polluted runoff, sewage and clean water infrastructure, among other priorities. If invested wisely, these local funds (called State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds or SLFRF) represent a huge opportunity to address a wide range of issues.

Fair Farms wants to see SLFRF funding allocated towards infrastructure needed for a more resilient local food system. Fair Farms advocates for regenerative agricultural practices that build healthy soils that improve water quality, ecosystem health, and reduce farm risk from extreme weather events.​ Robust regional agricultural infrastructure is key to regenerative agricultureHealthy soils not only reduce polluted runoff, they underpin the delivery of clean drinking water. Amazingly, even a small improvement in soil health can lead to an additional 20,000 gallons of water held per acre. This is because healthy soil is full of pores that absorb and hold water. Therefore, our guidance advocates for lowering barriers to adopting regenerative agriculture, such as lack of regional processing infrastructure, which is also critically important for local food system resiliency. The pandemic taught us the keys to resilience are flexibility, redundancy, and the capacity to adapt. Maryland experienced food shortages during the pandemic, because of weak supply chains that originate far beyond its borders.

Local organizations and individuals can be great partners in helping governments set their goals. To ensure that you have a voice in how your local government invests its SLFRF funding, we encourage you to reach out and advocate. Contact your local governments either directly or indirectly. For example, Fair Farms plans to ask its membership to contact their county governments. To make it as easy as possible for them to do so, we will provide them their county contact’s information, and sample talking points. Here are links to those documents, as well as information about additional sources of ARPA funding:

The pandemic forced a reckoning. Maryland needs your help to address it and ensure public health, economic recovery, and a regenerative, resilient future.

Devora Kimelman-Block (Fair Farms) gives an overview of how ARPA funds can support
infrastructure for a more resilient local food system.
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