From my experience at the USDA, I know the great wealth of data the agency has at its fingertips. With the release of the new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website tool – the food compass – resources and information about our local food systems become readily available.
Did you know California has more than 435 farmers markets and 1,100 farmers participating in Farmers Market Nutrition Programs for WIC participants? Or that in Pauma Valley, federal funding is supporting the replacement of an old irrigation system on tribal land, providing fresh water to support the growth of fresh fruits and vegetables? The food compass not only highlights local and regional projects but also helps connect farmers and consumers to opportunities within our food system. Here’s USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan with more information about the compass.
Local meat and poultry producers can find local marketing opportunities and projects within their region, those interested in farming can find resources to help get started and the updated KYF website provides greater transparency on our food system through case studies, blogs and information on the variety of programs, grants and loans the USDA has available.
State Board President Craig McNamara in an earlier blog, profiled another great resource for beginning farmers – www.start2farm.gov This website serves to not only help existing farmers but also those thinking about farming. I’m pleased to find that California has a listing of 15 separate programs on this site ranging from ‘creating farmer opportunities in farm worker communities’ to course work on a ‘creating a profitable ranching operation.’ Farming is a dynamic enterprise and this website is another great resource to assist those interested in farming.
CDFA looks forward to working with these web based tools as resources for the variety of work we do with direct marketing, local harvesting and food access. I encourage our farmers, consumers and stakeholders to also explore the wealth of information available within the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food and Start2Farm tool kits.