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Food compass now online

USDA recently introduced a compass, an online resource, to help guide people seeking information about the department’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative.

The KYF Compass is an interactive Web document with maps highlighting regional and local food projects, and case studies of business and community efforts.

Hosting a webinar to unveil the new tool, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack emphasized how local and regional food systems across the country create additional economic opportunities for farmers and food entrepreneurs to expand access to healthy food and meet growing consumer demand.

Key Points

New USDA Web resource maps local and regional food projects and opportunities.

Local food systems create economic growth for farmers, food entrepreneurs.

Tool also encourages consumers to learn about agriculture and food production.


“USDA works every day to strengthen American agriculture, drive job growth and support farm-family income,” says Vilsack. “The compass shows how USDA support for local and regional food systems have brought additional opportunities. The stories and maps underscore how diverse and innovative American agriculture can be.”

7 themes

The initiative was first launched in 2009 to enhance coordination among federal programs that help build local and regional farm and food systems. Using the map and an accompanying narrative documenting the results of this work through case studies, the KYF Compass organizes the USDA work on local and regional food systems into seven theme areas:

Local food infrastructure. Maps USDA support for local food hubs, cold storage facilities, local food processors and other infrastructure, and examines how this infrastructure keeps wealth in rural communities.

Farm to institution. Examines programs to connect local food producers and institutions and the results of these initiatives for healthy food access, farm incomes and students’ understanding of ag.

Agriculture careers. Discusses USDA support for young and beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as opportunities to get involved in ag through food business development and public service.

Stewardship and local foods. Explains how local food producers are putting environmentally sustainable practices to work on their farms to preserve farmland, forests and natural landscapes.

Local meat and poultry. Showcases resources for local meat and poultry producers and small processors to succeed.

Healthy food access. Offers tools to connect producers to underserved communities to raise access to healthy food.

Local food knowledge. Tracks existing research and identifies opportunities for further understanding of local and regional food systems and their impacts.

“By encouraging all Americans to know their farmer, USDA is helping consumers learn more about agriculture and the people producing your food,” says USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. The initiative helps farmers “tap into a growing market opportunity. It’s also stimulating a broader national conversation about where our food comes from and how important agriculture is to our country.”

See www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer.

Source: USDA

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This article published in the April, 2012 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.