I know I go hard on President Obama and his stunning wife First Lady Michelle concerning their apparent cowering to the will of large corporations like Wal-Mart and Monsanto, but as quiet as anything worthwhile in government is always kept, there are some good programs that the Obama Administration funds.
For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture promotes their Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which allows consumers and farmers to work together to find one another and create jobs and market demand for fresh, often organic produce in underserved areas.
Locavore movements are popping up all over barren cities, as residents are understanding the importance of cities producing at least half of what they consume.
Pointing out the knowledge and community connection established at her Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)/Farm Share program, Frugivore’s talented food contributor Sanura Weathers explains:
“Since joining a CSA, unheard of produce in the grocery store or a farmer’s market encourages me to at least try it.”
This is why there must be a ground swell of support and use for this program, which you already fund with your tax dollars.
USDA has launched a new, multimedia website that includes videos, photos, and a map showcasing all the USDA-supported projects (think: loans and grants). Many are aimed at helping communities coordinate the sale of locally grown fresh food products from small and mid-scale family farms. Another goal is to support regional food hubs.
According to NPR, this program will come up against a lot of Republican budget-cutters, who want large agriculture businesses to receive the bulk of federal assistance since they produce most of produce and take the most risks.
In an early version of the 2012 Appropriations bill, lawmakers in the House moved to de-fund marketing of the Know Your Farmer initiative. Even though there were similar concerns in the Senate, ultimately the program kept its funding. But USDA was told to give a status update. That’s part of what USDA accomplishes with this new, web-based Compass.
Even so, local food advocates are concerned the program could be cut out of the farm bill, set to expire this year.
It’s time for us to push the Obama Administration and Congress to keep this program alive, especially in these rough economic times. The connection between farmer and consumer must be strengthened through not only this program but a true understanding of agrarian lifestyles, which means more access to the countryside and less claustrophobic connectivity/smart-grid movements in cities across America.