USDA wants to know more about the capacity of the northeastern United States to produce enough food locally to meet market demands, rather than rely on food transported long distances to feed the burgeoning East Coast population. ARS scientists contend that relying more on the strategic production of locally grown food can counter the challenges of rising transport costs, growing population demands and vanishing farmlands. These studies will be conducted as part the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative.
Part of the study is designed to determine the suitability of East Coast soils for agricultural production, as well as land availability in the Northeast for local production of fruit and vegetables. Meanwhile, ARS scientists want to find out where local food production could meet current and projected demand, and where it might fall short. To do so they are mapping an array of county-level data from Maine to Virginia on factors such as weather, soil, land use, and water availability.
"The lessons we learn and the information we glean from this project will give us important insights into how we build and sustain local production systems elsewhere in the United States and abroad," said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.