Deputy secretary of agriculture Kathleen Merrigan didn’t offer many details for how the USDA is going to boost local food economies in a Facebook chat Thursday
. She was cordial and candid: that the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Initiative is still more of a concept than a concrete policy.
The initiative, launched last month, is intended to work within the system to make policy changes and dedicate money to build rural agriculture economies.
Right now, the USDA is reaching out - through tours of the country
and the internet - to figure out what exactly local food movements need.
“A lot of the expertise is out in the countryside,” Merrigan said. “There’s a lot of creative minds out there that have been working to build local food systems for a number of years.”
In an apparent response to criticisms from big ag., Merrigan said the initiative will benefit farms of all sizes and types - not just small, organic farmers. But she did say she wants to address some pressing nationwide food problems including the lack of fresh foods in urban areas and the disappearance of the mid-sized farm operation in America agriculture.
Answering a viewer question, Merrigan also noted that the USDA has to do better in spread the word about its programs and cutting down the red tape involved in applying for grants.
To that end, the USDA already has a website
, and Facebook
. Now, it just has to figure out how to broadcast to farmers in the field ... Ideas anyone?