CEA Alliance advocates for indoor agriculture in Washington

Over 30 members of the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Alliance, a key US trade association for indoor farming, convened in Washington, D.C. at the end of January to engage with Congress and the Administration. Their mission was to underscore the significance of the burgeoning indoor farming industry within American agriculture.

The group’s visit comes at a pivotal moment for the U.S., which is experiencing unprecedented levels of fresh food imports. Colin O’Neil, Bowery Farming’s Senior Director of Public Policy & Social Impact and Chair of the CEA Alliance Public Policy Working Group, emphasized the event’s importance. “This year’s Washington, D.C. fly-in served as a critical reminder that indoor farming is essential for augmenting domestic production of nutritious and healthy fresh food,” O’Neil stated. He highlighted the productive discussions held with policymakers about leveraging the farm bill, tax policies, appropriations, and labor talks to foster innovation and enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. indoor farming sector globally.

The CEA Alliance’s agenda included meetings with influential figures such as Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member John Boozman, and leaders from the House Agriculture, Appropriations, and Ways and Means Committees. Engagements extended to about 30 additional Congressional offices.

Furthermore, the alliance members engaged with top officials from the USDA, including Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie, Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Sanah Baig, Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Bruce Summers, and Director of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Brian Guse. These discussions aimed at reinforcing collaboration between the industry and government to enhance food safety practices.

A significant outcome of the meetings was the dialogue with Food and Drug Administration officials, facilitating an open exchange of information to support ongoing strong food safety practices within the industry. The CEA Alliance also took this opportunity to share their recently released best practices document, aimed at improving food safety guidelines for the production of leafy greens and herbs in controlled environment agriculture.

Tom Stenzel, CEA Alliance Executive Director, reflected on the importance of these engagements. “As indoor farming continues to grow, it’s crucial for our national leaders to recognize the dawn of a new era in U.S. agriculture,” said Stenzel. “Indoor farming is here to stay and will increasingly contribute to feeding America.”

Source: Perishable News

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