- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
Media Contact for MDAR Commissioner Appointed to USDA’s Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Federal Advisory Committee
Troy Wall, Communications Director
BOSTON — Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux has been appointed by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack as one of 12 new members to serve on the newly established Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Federal Advisory Committee (UAIP-FAC). The UAIP-FAC was established following the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) to advise the Secretary and Director of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production on the development of policies and outreach relating to urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices, among other duties.
“I’m thrilled that Commissioner Lebeaux will serve on the newly formed Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Federal Advisory Committee to lend his voice and expertise,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Commissioner Lebeaux continues to be an exceptional leader for the Commonwealth’s farming sector and will be a tremendous asset to the committee as it seeks to advance urban agricultural policies and strategies."
During their nation-wide search, the USDA and the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production peer reviewed more than 300 nominees, and Secretary Vilsack made the final selections. Selections ensured geographic, racial, and gender diversity and a broad range of agricultural experience. The 12 UAIP-FAC members represent a variety of agricultural sectors across 11 states and the District of Columbia, allowing for a broad and diverse representation of perspectives. Significantly, the committee is made up of agricultural producers and representatives from the areas of higher education or extension programs, non-profits, business and economic development, supply chains, and financing. The UAIP-FAC members will also serve terms between one to three years.
“I am truly honored to have been chosen to serve on this new committee that will provide leading-edge guidance on an exciting and emerging sector of agriculture in the United States for urban farmers across the country,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “I look forward to learning from my colleagues, and sharing with them the many lessons and best practices that we’ve learned here in Massachusetts and how they might be able to be successfully applied to other regions in the nation.”
Launched in January 2014, MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program is one of the nation’s first state-wide initiatives dedicated to urban farming. Following its successful rollout as a pilot in 2014, MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program has become an immensely popular and established annual component of the suite of grant programs MDAR awards to farmers. Its goal is to advance commercial urban food production in MA, increase access to affordable fresh local food for urban residents, and address the challenges of small-scale farming in dense environments. Since its inception, MDAR has strengthened the sustainability of new and expanding urban agriculture enterprises through targeted investments of $2.96M in Urban Agriculture grants to ninety-four awardees during nine rounds of availability. The program also incentivizes municipalities, organizations, and institutions to partner on projects, leading to increased access to fresh, nutritious food for urban residents, while promoting viable farming methods and policies that enable farming in urban centers.
A longtime resident of Shrewsbury and the grandson and son of farmers, Commissioner Lebeaux worked in the agricultural industry in Massachusetts for most of his adult life. As a young man he worked several years as an urban horticulturist in New York City. On February 6, 2015, he was sworn in as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) by Governor Charlie Baker.