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Why Did The United States Start Urban Farming
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Every year, the US Department of Agriculture devotes millions of dollars to farmers in rural areas.

The government is increasingly starting to offer assistance to urban farms, too.
In 2016, the USDA funded a dozen urban farms, the highest number in history, Val Dolicini, the administrator for the USDA Farm Services Agency, tells Business Insider.
In 2017, he expects the USDA to funnel even more money toward farms on rooftops, in greenhouses, and in warehouses.
USDA Microloans, a program that offers funding up to $50,000, is specifically geared toward urban farmers. Established in 2013, the program has awarded 23,000 loans worth $518 million to farms in California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Though it is open to all farmers, urban farmers often apply for it because it offers the money on a smaller scale than other programs. Seventy percent (or about 16,100 of those loans) have gone to new farmers, many of them in cities.
“Urban farmers are not looking to form 10,000 acres in Missouri, but perhaps in an indoor container on a parking lot next to old factory,” Dolcini says.
In 2016, nine young farmers participating in a vertical farming accelerator program called Square Roots, founded by entrepreneurs Kimbal Musk (Elon’s brother) and Tobias Peggs, became the first urban farmers to receive microloans in New York.
Farmers selected for Square Roots grow their crops inside climate-controlled, LED-lit shipping containers. The Square Roots farmers used their loans to cover the costs of seeds and operating expenses before their first harvests, Peggs says.
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Entrepreneur Tobias Peggs outside Square Roots, a vertical farming startup accelerator in Brooklyn, New York.
Peggs and Musk worked with the USDA to streamline the 2016 microloan application, which will make it even easier for urban farmers to gain funding in the future.
Dolcini says the agency wants to take advantage of people’s experiences in other fields, or those who might be making an industry change (One of the Square Roots farmers used to be an accountant, and others are recent university graduates). The program also now allows grantees to use the loan for non-traditional farm equipment (think LEDs instead of tractors), which is beneficial for urban farmers.

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