Have your heard about the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014? This bill was recently submitted by District Of Columbia Councilmember David Grosso and is supported by Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells. CFA Co-Founder and urban farmer, Gail Taylor, has been collaborating with councilmember Grosso to push this bill forward. She, along with with members of Health Affordable Food For All have helped draft the bill so that it includes small farmers. This Saturday at 10:15am in room 230 at Rooting DC, Gail and other HAFA members will lead a session to discuss the impacts of this Bill on local farmers and the DC food justice community as a whole.
Among the most significant pieces of the bill is the Urban Farming Land Initiative, which charges the Mayor with identifying 25 District-owned vacant lots with the potential to be made into urban farms. Qualified applicants would be able to apply to lease the lot for the purpose of urban agriculture.
The bill will also make it possible for DC taxpayer to receive tax credits for food donations made to non-profits. Lastly, the Bill will amend the Real Property Tax Abatement Initiative to include a tax deduction for leasing property for agriculture use.This is a huge incentive that can be used to encourage landowners to rent/lease land in the D.C. metro area. If signed into law, the changes go into effect January 1, 2015. This bill will build of of previously abandoned legislation like the Food Production and Urban Gardens Program Act of 1986, passed during the Barry Administration.
This bill could potentially be a huge windfall for urban farmers and residents of D.C demanding more local food. It has at least united D.C. legislators, community members and local farmers in work to grow a healthier, and more sustainable DC food system.