New USDA Local Food Resource: The Compass

Mar 7, 2012 @ 8:57 AM by FFN with [0] comments
Kate Fitzgerald

On February 29, USDA launched an extensive new interactive website with a national map highlighting the agency’s programs that can be used to develop healthy regional food systems.

The Compass responds to a Congressional request for a report on the Department’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food work. It is also an appropriate 21st century tool to meet the mandate President Lincoln articulated150 years ago when announcing the formation of the Department in 1862: “to acquire and diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture in the most general and comprehensive sense of the word."

USDA Know Your Farmer logo

The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a digital guide that explains how the different programs work, shows you which programs are being used where, and links to interesting case studies. These studies tell the stories behind the grants and loans USDA makes to support the innovative work citizens are undertaking every day to create jobs, expand opportunities for farmers, and ensure healthy food is available to all American communities.

The Compass is the latest USDA on-line tool to help farmers, ranchers, community development organizations, schools and institutions, non-profit organizations, and others make full use of USDA resources to spur resilient local and regional food system development. It collects the achievements of the last two years of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and organizes the data into seven easy-to-access categories:

  • Local Food Infrastructure maps USDA support for 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 agriculture.
  • Careers in Agriculture discusses USDA support for young and beginning farmers and ranchers, opportunities to get involved in agriculture through food business development and public service.
  • Stewardship and Local Foods explains how local food producers are implementing environmentally sustainable practices to preserve farmland, forests and natural landscapes.
  • Local Meat and Poultry showcases resources for local meat and poultry producers and small processors to succeed in local markets.
  • Healthy Food Access highlights tools to connect farmers and ranchers underserved communities to increase access to healthy food for consumers and economic opportunities for producers.
  • Local Food Knowledge tracks existing research and identifies opportunities for further understanding of local and regional food systems and their impacts.environmentally sustainable practices to preserve farmland, forests and natural landscapes.


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