According to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA’s AMS) and the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)—the two largest federal purchasers of food in the U.S.—attempt to source locally grown food when possible, but do not collect sufficient data to trace the origins of food purchases.

Both agencies are generally required by law to purchase domestic food, but there are no requirements that this food be locally grown, and neither the AMS nor DLA collects comprehensive data on such purchases. However, both agencies encourage vendors to source locally grown food where available.

From fiscal years (FYs) 2018–2022, AMS and DLA spent more than $30 billion on the purchase of food from domestic vendors for clients such as schools, food backs, and military facilities. Of the total purchases, AMS and DLA obligated $13.6 billion on contracts with small businesses. Additionally, since FY 2021, AMS has provided more than $600 million in financial assistance to states, territories, and tribal governments to purchase foods produced within the same state, or within 400 miles of the delivery destination. Moreover, through the USDA Department of Defense (DOD) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program—which provides fresh fruits and vegetables to schools, tribes, and tribal organizations in partnership with USDA—DLA purchased more than $287 million of locally grown food products from FYs 2018–2022.