Cross posted from the White House blog:
Three years ago, I was asked to participate in the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, out of which grew the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. In May 2010, we submitted a report to the President that made a series of recommendations for addressing the challenges of obesity and hunger, both of which stem from a lack of access to good, healthy food. The report identified local food systems as a strategy to combat food access problems, and specifically called upon the USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative to provide technical and financial assistance to help communities grow and process their own food, and create jobs at the same time.
I’m pleased to report that we’ve made a lot of progress since 2009 – and we have two new tools to help communities learn about what we’ve done and tap into USDA resources to develop their own solutions. The new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a document packed with photos, video and case studies of communities building strong local food systems. Farmers’ markets, mobile produce vendors, farm to school initiatives, and food hubs are just a few of many examples highlighted by the Compass. The Healthy Food Access section shows how communities are using USDA resources to promote health and the local economy. Read more »
On Friday, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan met with producers in America’s most significant and diverse agricultural state – California. Many people wouldn’t think of farming in Orange County, but there is significant specialty crop production just a few miles away from Disneyland. Farming in southern California’s urban environment is particularly challenging and Merrigan’s first stop was at Manassero Farms in Irvine where she discussed these challenges with local strawberry and tomato grower Dan Manassero. Manassero’s family operation, which has been in business for several generations, has several successful farm stands, as well as commercial relationships with local grocery stores.
Deputy Merrigan then traveled to the headquarters of the Orange County Great Park where she and Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Val Dolcini held a roundtable listening session with dozens of local growers. She also visited The Great Park, formerly home to El Toro Marine Air Station, which spans more than 1,300 acres (nearly twice the size of NewYork’s Central Park) and embraces environmental sustainability, Orange County’s agricultural heritage, and honors the military history of the former air base. Merrigan then toured the Great Park Farm, a 114 acre working farm designed to provide fresh produce to local residents. Read more »
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (at table, center), and White House Office of Public Engagement Director Jon Carson (at table, left) conducted a Know Your Farmer Compass event that utilized twitter social media to continue the National Conversation on Local and Regional Food projects and how they offer economic opportunities to local farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. Using the new web-based Know Your Food Compass, the conversation covered many aspects about food, such as infrastructure, stewardship, local meat and poultry, Healthy food access, careers in agriculture and local food knowledge. The virtual conversation took place at the White House, and twitter was used to expand the conversation worldwide, from Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 5, 2012. Unlike most events where mobile communication devices are asked to be turned off, here it was asked that they remain on allowing people to have social media conversations. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
Yesterday, I had my first-ever “virtual conversation.” It included Jon Carson, Director of Public Engagement for the White House; Sam Kass, Senior White House Advisor on Food Policy, and 60 other local food practitioners. We came together to talk about the new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass and were joined “virtually” by hundreds of others using the Twitter hashtag #KYF2. The result? An exciting and inspirational conversation about USDA’s work on local and regional food systems involving people from around the country. Read more »
Two and a half years ago, I announced a new initiative here at USDA called Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.
It’s the public face of our commitment to help farmers and ranchers of all sizes take advantage of new opportunities, meet the growing demand for local and regional food and succeed in America’s diverse marketplace.
Last week, USDA unveiled new tools showcasing what we’ve accomplished over the last few years as local food sales have expanded as a multi-billion dollar industry. Read more »
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan received a question via twitter message while in the USDA TV studio, during the unveiling of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass, an interactive web-based document and map highlighting USDA support for local and regional food projects and successful producer, business and community case studies. While hosting a live webinar to highlight USDA's work over the past three years, the Secretaries emphasized how local and regional food systems across the country create additional economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs, expand healthy food access and meet growing customer demand. At the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, February 29, 2012. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
Earlier this week we launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass, a digital narrative with stories, pictures and video about USDA’s support for local and regional food systems, and interactive map with datasets displaying the various ways and places where the initiative has made an impact. Read more »
I quickly learned this past weekend that the 2012 Farm Bill deliberations aren’t just being watched by folks who live in rural America. A conference in New York City last week demonstrated that many people in our nation’s largest city are also following the Farm Bill reauthorization discussions closely.
As Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan talked with attendees following her speech at the 2012 Just Food Conference, questions about the 2012 Farm Bill were among the most frequently asked, with dozens of students and long-time food policy advocates wanting to know more. Read more »