Sarah Brannen Delivers Remarks at the White House Rural Council
LEP Program Manager Sarah Brannen was invited to Washington, DC earlier this month to speak at the White House Rural Council Convening on Regional Food Economies. She was among seven representatives from organizations active in regional food system development who spoke to policy advisors from the White House, USDA, HHS, HUD, SBA, and other federal agencies.
Brannen shared LEP’s vision of how to build a just, environmentally sustainable, and economically secure food system. In addition to the need to develop infrastructure, Brannen highlighted the means for infrastructure development: patient capital, marketing and logistics support, and human capital development.
“Human capital development is, perhaps, the most important of these three,” Brannen said. “Local farmers and food businesses are being left behind as they struggle to compete in a high volume, low price market, without the requisite information and expertise. The cost of technical assistance for one growing company alone can be upwards of $100,000.”
Human capital investment as a prerequisite to improving infrastructure was a theme echoed by several participants in the roundtable discussion. The scale and scope of the human capital investment that our food system requires cannot, however, be managed by the nonprofit sector alone. Partnerships between government, the private sector, and nonprofits are essential if we are to build a just, environmentally sustainable, and economically secure food system – not just for the Hudson Valley, but for the whole country. Increasing interest on the part of the federal government is a promising sign for the future.