Wednesday, July 13, 2011


"Today, there is too much distance between the average American and their farmer and we are marshaling resources from across USDA to help create the link between local production and local consumption" - Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

The USDA is getting this one right. The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative emphasizes the need to create a "reconnection" of U.S. farmers to the consumer. Some 50+ years back, the majority of our food came from farms within a days driving distance. Today, most of the grocery market offerings have traveled from California to New York, Florida to Texas...not to mention the fruits, vegetables, and meats that are imported from Mexico and South America in the "off season". Now, under the auspices of the 2008 Farm Bill, the USDA has launched a program to promote local farmers to the consumer.

 The following, from the "Know Your Farmer" web page, actually states the program mission very clearly:
_Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) is a USDA-wide effort to carry out President Obama's commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems. 
_We know that demand for local and regional foods is strong, as consumers across the country are looking to connect with their food and the people who grow and raise it:

_The number of farmers markets has more than tripled in the past 15 years and there are now more than 6,100 around the country;

_In 1986 there were two community supported agriculture operations, today there are over 4,000;

_There are farm to school programs in 48 states, totaling more than 2,200 and up from two in 1996;

_All 50 states in the U.S. have agricultural branding programs, such as "Jersey Fresh" or "Simply Kansas;"

_And the National Restaurant Association declared "locally sourced meats and seafood" and "locally grown produce" as the top two trends for 2011.

Local and regional markets often provide farmers with a higher share of the food dollar, and money spent at a local business often continues to circulate within community, creating a multiplier effect and providing greater economic benefits to the area.

An Economic Research Service Study (May 2010) identified barriers to local food market entry and expansion, including capacity constraints for farms, a lack of infrastructure for moving local food into mainstream markets, and regulatory uncertainties. This is the work of the Initiative.

Our mission is to strengthen the critical connection between farmers and consumers and supports local and regional food systems. Through this initiative, USDA integrates programs and policies that:

_Stimulate food- and agriculturally-based community economic development;

_Foster new opportunities for farmers and ranchers;

_Promote locally and regionally produced and processed foods;

_Cultivate healthy eating habits and educated, empowered consumers;

_Expand access to affordable fresh and local food; and

_Demonstrate the connection between food, agriculture, community and the environment.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food also leads a national conversation about food and agriculture to strengthen the connection between consumers and farmers.

"The largest 12.4 percent of farms in terms of gross receipts received 62.4 percent of all government payments in 2008." -
Farm Commodity Policy 

I heartily applaud the USDA for this initiative and have high hopes that this is a "turning point" in government recognition of the plight of the family farm in America.


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