Know Your Food

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, a new initiative from USDA, provides consumers the chance to connect to local food producers.

| October 2, 2009

Washington, D.C. – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan recently announced a new initiative – 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' – to begin a national conversation to help develop local and regional food systems and spur economic opportunity.

To launch the initiative, Vilsack recorded a video to invite Americans to join the discussion and share their ideas for ways to support local agriculture. The video, one of many means by which USDA will engage in this conversation, can be viewed at USDA's YouTube channel. Producers and consumers can comment on the 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' YouTube playlist, as well as submit videos or provide comments on this initiative by e-mailing .

"Americans who are more engaged with their food supply will create new income opportunities for American agriculture," Vilsack says. "Reconnecting consumers and institutions with local producers will stimulate economies in rural communities, improve access to healthy, nutritious food for our families, and decrease the amount of resources to transport our food."

The 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative, chaired by Merrigan, is the focus of a task force with representatives from agencies across USDA who will help better align the department's efforts to build stronger local and regional food systems. In the first week of the program, USDA announced approximately $65 million in funding for 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiatives.

"Americans are more interested in food and agriculture than at any other time since most families left the farm," Merrigan says. "'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' seeks to focus that conversation on supporting local and regional food systems to strengthen American agriculture by promoting sustainable agricultural practices and spurring economic opportunity in rural communities."

In the months to come, cross-cutting efforts at USDA will seek to use existing USDA programs to break down structural barriers that have inhibited local food systems from thriving. USDA announced a small initial group of moves that seek to connect local production and consumption and promote local-scale sustainable operations:

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