Local food has been the subject of federal, state, and local government policies in recent years throughout the United States as consumer demand has grown. Local foods have been linked to several government priorities—including enhancing the rural economy, the environment, and supporting agricultural producers. This article provides an overview of U.S. Federal, State and regional policies designed to support local food systems. It details the latest economic information on policy, relying on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature. Federal policies related to local food systems were greatly expanded by the 2008 Farm Bill, and are further expanded in the Agricultural Act of 2014. United States policies address several barriers to the further expansion of local food markets, including scaling up output of small farms to address the needs of larger commercial outlets, lack of infrastructure for increasing local food sales, ability to trace product source, and producer education regarding local food expansion.
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