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Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food News Coverage

Big plans for small farmers
Warriors in the battle for more local, sustainable food have long been suspicious of the Department of Agriculture and its relationship to large agricultural interests. But even the most dedicated political agrarian has to admit that the USDA is getting local food fever. This week, the top people at the USDA announced they would be handing out almost $65 million to help connect small farmers — especially those using sustainable practices — with people who want to eat local food. The money is part of their new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” campaign which includes a series of programs to help farmers better market their food and the people who run large institutions buy it. (N.Y. Times Diner’s Journal blog, 9/15)

USDA launches “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative
Helping communities lift themselves by the economic roots is the thrust behind a new federal initiative called “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” Details of the multi-million-dollar program, announced Tuesday in Washington by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, were outlined later in the afternoon here in Chicago at the Chefs Collaborative National Summit. “We believe everyone needs a farmer,’’ said Ann Wright, deputy undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And that includes the White House, too. Wright said creation of a farmer’s market to be located outside the presidential mansion would be announced Thursday. (Chicago Tribune The Stew blog, 9/15)

USDA’s $65 million drop in the bucket
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is so fired up about local food economies that it’s coughing up $65 million for a new program called “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” My first reaction: $65 million?! That’s all?! (Grist Magazine, 9/15)

USDA launches local foods blitz
I don’t usually get calls from the USDA, let alone the deputy secretary, but there Kathleen Merrigan was on the phone from her car and it wasn’t a prank. She wanted to talk about the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign that the USDA launched this week, which centers on building buzz around local and regional food systems and “spurring economic opportunity.” Merrigan is chairing the initiative, which comes not a moment too soon. The USDA has finally recognized how important and vital local and regional food systems are — and is tapping into the vibrant activity already underway by making an effort to open up its doors and purse strings. (Huffington Post 9/15)

USDA promises to help school districts buy locally grown produce
The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to assist schools in a new initiative to encourage purchases of locally grown food. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said new farm-to-school initiatives will help school administrators’ transition to purchasing more locally grown foods in remarks about the just-launched “Know your farmer, know your food” initiative. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and the agency’s Food and Nutrition Service will participate in the farm to school tactical teams, according to a USDA news release. (The Packer 9/15)

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food…Know Your Tactical Team. USDA Announces Big Plans and $50 Million for Local School Lunches
With both the White House and USDA focusing on healthy eating and local sourcing, the paradigm shift in American agriculture is speeding the plow…Obama Foodorama visited Tree and Leaf Farm yesterday, with Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan, for the kickoff of USDA’s new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. To celebrate the big new project, there’s a week of special USDA “surprises” and events planned. Today’s “surprise” is terrific: Local foods for school lunches just got a big boost, with Dep. Sec. Merrigan’s announcement of the Farm-To-School Tactical Teams. (Obama Foodorama blog, 9/14)

The USDA Wants You To “Know Your Farmer”
This morning I was fortunate to attend new media press event with Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. A small group of us took a short trip outside of Washing DC to Tree and Leaf Farm. Which is exactly 47 miles away from the Dupont Farmers Market in the city, according to co-owner Georgia O’Neal. The reason for this farm adventure was to launch a very special program for the USDA, called Know Your Farmer Know Your Food. The details of which are still coming out. DepSec Merrigan did clue us in on the plan which includes a weeklong series of programs, announcements, and events. With the culminating event being the official opening of a farmers market one block away from the White House. (A Clean Life blog, 9/14)

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