Deputy Secretary Merrigan Brings ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ College Tour to Utah State University
Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan was at Utah State University yesterday, for a presentation to local leaders and students interested in food and agricultural policy. Attendees filled the auditorium to capacity with standing room only in the aisles to hear about what USDA is doing to strengthen the connection between farmers and consumers.
“The Obama Administration wants to build on existing programs and engage in new strategies to support and establish local and regional food systems as an economic development strategy to keep wealth in rural communities,” Merrigan said. “Part of our ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ initiative is to link the agricultural community to urban markets to bring new understanding of the importance of healthy eating and provide enhanced access to fresh foods. We expect consumer demand for locally grown food in the U.S. to rise from an estimated $4 billion in 2002 to as much as $7 billion by 2012.”
Deputy Secretary Merrigan highlighted the unprecedented coordination and collaboration at USDA to help promote locally and regionally produced food.
One example of how farmers can get involved, Merrigan said, is to participate in local farm to school programs that enable schools to feature healthy, locally-sourced products in their cafeterias. USDA currently has coordination teams working on farm to school issues. Some of these programs also incorporate nutrition-based studies, as well as food-learning opportunities such as farm visits, gardening, cooking, and composting activities.
The ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ website, at www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer, features social media tools to help focus the public conversation about farming and food, while engaging American agriculture and linking producers to customers.