Governor Lamont Joins Connecticut Department of Agriculture and USDA Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt on Efforts to Support Connecticut Farmers and Increase Access to Healthy, Locally Grown Food
(HARTFORD, CT) –Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffit at Keney Park Sustainability Project in Windsor to highlight efforts to support Connecticut farmers and increase access to healthy, locally grown food. Specifically, CT DoAg has leveraged federal funding available through USDA programs, such as Local Food Purchasing Assistance (LFPA) and Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) to increase opportunities available for socially disadvantaged producers and creating recommendations to expand access to encourage future producers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to enter agricultural production.
According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, there are 134 producers in Connecticut who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC) – 1.4% of all Connecticut producers, yet 20% of the state’s population identify as BIPOC (US Census 2010).
“Not only is it important that we promote Connecticut Grown products and support this vital industry as a whole, but it’s also important that we keep local farmers as part of the solution when it comes to addressing food insecurity and increasing access to locally grown, healthy food for people of all income levels,” said Governor Lamont. “Through partnerships between our state and the USDA, we can support local farmers, increase access to locally grown food, and encourage the growth of diversity in this industry.”
In March of 2021, Governor Lamont and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture announced the creation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Agriculture (DEI) working group. Since then, the 43 members assembled to form the DEI working group and topic specific subgroups have formulated 29 high-level and 39 sub-level recommendations officially released today in a report. The working groups are a crucial component of an agency-wide effort to engage and support current and future farmers and those in the agriculture industry who specifically identify as People of Color in the state.
“By releasing this report, we reaffirm our commitment to following through on the recommendations to the best of our ability, support current producers of color to build more viable businesses, and to help build up the next generation of diverse farmers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “We express our deep gratitude to all the working group members who have given their time and input into creating this roadmap for the department and industry. We recognize there is much work ahead of us to continue making progress on this front.”
Efforts currently being undertaken and invested in because of the report include:
Comprehensive communication and outreach plan to make information about available resources and opportunities more accessible.
$50,000 pilot BIPOC mentorship/apprenticeship program with 10 CT BIPOC specialty crop producers providing a paid apprenticeship experience to BIPOC individual looking to further explore and develop agricultural skills.
Study by the Connecticut Land Conservation Council looking at land access and land tenure models specifically focused on land trusts and publicly owned land, as lack of access to affordable, secure land tenure is one of the most persistent barriers to building a viable farm business and obtaining generational wealth.
Earlier in the day, Under Secretary Moffit, Lt. Governor Bysiewicz, and Commissioner Hurlburt stopped at Fire by Forge in Hartford where they were joined by members of eight organizations who were recipients of funding through the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program. CT DoAg has received $6.725 million which has been redistributed to eight organizations throughout the state to bring locally grown food from Connecticut farmers to the tables of underserved neighbors, while also creating market access for historically underserved producers.
Connecticut Foodshare recently surpassed the milestone of 1 million pounds of CT Grown food products purchased and distributed to those in need. In total, CT Grown farm products have been purchased from 78 Connecticut producers ranging from produce, meat, and eggs to dairy and value-added products such as honey and maple syrup. Thirty-two percent of the producers self-identify as socially disadvantaged. Food has been delivered to more than 440 organizations across 109 cities and towns, including food pantries, hospitals, small non-profits, senior centers, and direct to homes.
“Our administration is committed to supporting local farmers−especially farmers of color−and providing fresh food to underserved communities,” said Lt. Governor Bysiewicz. “The Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program has been instrumental in providing resources and opportunities for a more equitable, accessible, complete food system from farm to table. I’m grateful to Secretary Vilsack, Under Secretary Moffitt, and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture for being such great partners in our shared mission.”
The LFPA program is a prime example of federal dollars being used to support local producers and provide fresh farm products to vulnerable, underserved populations. It is a program that represents USDA’s and CT DoAg’s commitment to prioritize purchasing from historically underserved producers. CT DoAg is committed to continue working with partner organizations to increase this number as the program continues through October 2025.
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture mission is to foster a healthy economic, environmental, and social climate for agriculture by developing, promoting, and regulating agricultural businesses; protecting agricultural and aquacultural resources; enforcing laws pertaining to domestic animals; and promoting an understanding among the state's citizens of the diversity of Connecticut agriculture, its cultural heritage, and its contribution to the state's economy. For more information, visit www.CTGrown.gov.