Today Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan highlighted the Know Your Famer, 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. Merrigan highlighted the new tool at the Natural Products Expo West to showcase USDA's work over the past three years. She 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. The Compass was unveiled last week in a webinar with Merrigan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
"Every day USDA is working to strengthen American agriculture, which helps drive job growth and supports farm-family income," said Merrigan. "The KYF Compass highlights how USDA's support for local and regional food systems has brought additional opportunities to our country's farmers, ranchers, processors, distributors and food entrepreneurs. The stories and maps in the Compass underscore how diverse and innovative American agriculture can be."
The KYF Compass is a digital guide to USDA resources related to local and regional food systems. The Compass consists of an interactive U.S. map showing local and regional food projects and an accompanying narrative documenting the results of this work through case studies, photos and video content. The KYF Compass organizes USDA's work on local and regional food systems into seven thematic areas. Among the themes covered on the map and in the narrative portion of the Compass are: local food infrastructure, farm to institution, careers in agriculture, stewardship and local foods, local meat and poultry, healthy food access and local food knowledge.
"By encouraging all Americans to know their farmer, USDA is helping consumers learn more about agriculture and the people producing your food," said Merrigan. "The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative helps farmers and ranchers tap into a vibrant, growing market opportunity. And it's also stimulating a broader national conversation about where our food comes from and how important agriculture is to our country."
A large selection of USDA-supported programs and projects is also visible on the KYF Map, which can be displayed by theme, program, or recipient type. Both the KYF Compass and map will be regularly refreshed with new data and case studies.
In September 2009, USDA launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to coordinate USDA resources and expertise on local and regional food systems. The KYF Compass documents the ways in which USDA has collaborated across its 17 agencies and additional offices, enhanced transparency and met congressional mandates from the 2008 Farm Bill on local and regional food. KYF is not a separate USDA program or agency. It is a management initiative to increase inter-agency coordination.
For more information and to join the national conversation, please visit the 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' website, at www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer. You can also join the national conversation on Twitter by using the hash tag #KYF2.