A new USDA initiative was recently launched, designed to reconnect consumers with their food and to stimulate local food economies. The $65 million dollar "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" program aims to break down some of the barriers that keep local food systems from thriving.
It's great to see the USDA getting involved in embracing local food, rather than seeing it as a threat. Wild Type Ranch produces pastured beef to sell locally, but half of our business is raising top-quality breeding stock, most of which is used as parents of more conventionally-produced beef. I often feel that I'm one of the few who don't see the two businesses as antagonistic.
I hear both sides of this issue, at the farmer's market, at cattle sales and around town. Getting consumers in touch with producers has got to help with understanding some of the conventional production systems that sometimes unfairly come under criticism. Having the USDA embrace local food economies has got to help conventional agriculture see that anything that promotes ag, helps keep farmers on the land and farming and educates consumers is good for all agriculture.
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