Do you know your farmer? Do you know where your food comes from, each and every day? Inviting Americans to join a national conversation about local and regional food systems, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new USDA initiative this week. "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" is an effort to strengthen local and regional food systems, promote sustainable agriculture, and stimulate rural economies. The $65 million program, chaired by Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, will include actions like helping socially disadvantaged and underserved farmers with direct marketing, providing grants for local business cooperatives, and facilitating interstate meat and poultry commerce for small producers. A farm-to-school initiative focuses on making it easier for schools to purchase locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Additional announcements and events are rolling out all week. A new White House farmers' market will open on Thursday, and a "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" Web site will launch on Friday. Secretary Vilsack also released a YouTube video and asked Americans to leave their comments and ideas:
Our first response to the program? It's about time! We are thrilled to see the USDA helping Americans connect with their local and regional farmers and will be watching with great interest as the initiative develops.
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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