Touch the Soil News #662
The State of Illinois is considering legislation that would formalize urban food and farming throughout the whole state. Illinois State Representative Sonya Harper (Democrat) is proposing urban agriculture zones. Illinois is the sixth most populous state with a population of almost 13 million. Sonya Harper has lived in a food desert most of her life.
What this legislation aims to achieve is to break up food deserts and put vacant lots to use by establishing urban agriculture zones that would incentivize the sale of locally grown foods.
- An agriculture zone would be made up of organizations or individuals who grow produce or other agricultural products (including livestock and poultry) or sell a minimum of 75 percent locally grown food.
- Sales tax monies collected from the sale of local agricultural products would be deposited into an urban agriculture zone account. Monies from this account would be disbursed to specific counties, municipalities or school districts that engage in urban agriculture development.
- Monies would be used for educational programs to include nutrition or to support urban food businesses and farms.
- The bill also calls for a reduction in water connection charges for properties in an urban agriculture zone – an incentive to develop vacant lots.
Representative Harper’s legislation goes beyond just urban agriculture. The idea of re-circulating local taxes creates local cash flows that achieve the goals of local people. The U.S. government has used this strategy to implement “Federal” mandates (often crafted by lobbyists) to help shape the vision of special interests.