On January 19, 2022, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the House Environment and Transportation Committee in support of HB 156 Local Governments – Urban Agricultural Incentive Zones – Authorization. This bill authorizes a local government to establish urban agricultural incentive zones (UAIZs). UAIZs encourage agricultural production in communities in need of access to fresh, healthy foods and provide economic and environmental benefits.
From the MACo testimony:
Maryland’s growth comes with several challenges. One of the more significant hurdles facing local jurisdictions is the issue of food desert neighborhoods with few if any retailers or distributors of healthy and fresh foods. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty have decreased access to supermarkets. Aside from the accessibility issue, the transportation infrastructure for food also comes with significant environmental costs. These costs primarily arise from emissions and food waste.
HB 156 will give localities the power to establish urban agricultural zones while at the same time unlocking grant funding to develop those zones. Expanding agricultural production closest to the people who need it offers a path for neighborhood revitalization. New localized food production will spawn sensible growth, while also lessening food waste and emissions from transportation.
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