President Obama’s national initiative “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF),” to promote the country’s local, sustainable food system, offers three main advantages for a healthier USA. First, the program connects the consumer with the grower. Second, it reveals the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) investment in local and regional food systems. And, third, it supports creating new jobs, business opportunities and economic improvement within the food industry.
With Americans growing out of touch with the source of their food, the USDA is taking a firmer stance to promote local growers and make fervent efforts to educate consumers about farming, industrialization and healthy food access. KYF now provides online resources and a “Food Compass Map” as a tool to discover USDA and other federally supported local food projects, farmers markets, food hubs, meat processors and purveyors in the food market system. USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also has a video with an introduction to KYF and information on how this program supports the development and promotion of local food systems and sustainable agricultural practices. For a detailed look on the three advantages KYF has to offer consumers, visit the slideshow list.
Connecting consumer to farmer
A shift in public interest, from accepting packaged and fast food convenience to questioning where food comes from and how it reaches the table, was the impetus for the educational initiative by the USDA called the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food (KYF). KYF connects consumers and youth with farmers and ranchers through programs like Farm to School and educational resources like the National Agricultural Library’s farm to institution annotated bibliography. It also focuses on increasing the knowledge and understanding of farming processes, manufacturing and the costs associated with local food systems.
KYF Compass Map
The KYF Compass interactive map provides a resource for consumers to learn how the USDA and federal partners support local and regional food economies. The current map reflects data from 2009-2012 and includes the following local and regional project themes: careers in agriculture, local meat, Farm to Institution, infrastructure, stewardship, healthy food access, knowledge, marketing and promotion. It also includes data on green schools, FSA loans, wholesale and farmers markets and nutrition programs at farmers and provides case studies of USDA-supported programs.
KYF supports improving farming economy
KYF demonstrates the USDA’s commitment to increasing economic activity in food-related sectors and improving local food communities. It supports the premise that regional food systems are driving job growth in agriculture, increasing entrepreneurship in rural communities and expanding healthy food access and consumer choice. It ties together staff from seven mission areas and 17 agencies to foster coordination and transparency for economic growth. The resources and awareness that KYF provides aims to create new business opportunities for farmers, ranchers, market vendors and laborers involved in the local food movement.