In 2009, the USDA launched the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, a program started to increase the supply and demand of locally raised food products, raise interest in agriculture, and provide more access to fresh foods. Here are some quick facts about the initiative, and the impact it has had in the last 7 years:
Local farm systems are creating an average of 13 jobs per $1 million in sales
Small farms ($49,000 a year in sales or less) make up 79% of the farming businesses in America, and 10% of local food sales
The number of farmers markets across the country increased 54% from 2008 to 2011, bringing about 7,000 new opportunities for farmers to interact directly with consumers
Local and regional food infrastructure, such as cold storage facilities, sorting and grading facilities, mills, processing plants and refrigerated trucks provide jobs and growth for the local economy
Since 2009, over 700 local and national groups have established community and school gardens nationwide
Between 2010 and 2011, the USDA helped finance construction of about 4,500 high tunnels (greenhouse-like structures) to help farms extend their growing seasons
Farms and ranches of all sizes are helping to conserve our natural resources and greenspaces
The increased demand for locally raised meat and poultry has caused an increase in supply-chain jobs, such as meat processing, packing and trucking.
The number of schools participating in farm-to-school programs jumped from 400 in 2004 to over 2,300 in 2011
A lack of access to fresh foods contributes to obesity, vitamin deficiency and many health problems. Local farm markets bring fresh foods to under-served urban areas to help bridge the fresh food access gap.
In 2010, nearly 900,000 seniors and 2.15 million WIC recipients gained access to farm fresh foods with help from the USDA
Between 2010 and 2011, the number of farmers markets authorized to accept EBT (food stamps) grew by over 51%, to over 2,400 markets nationwide
In 2009, 29 Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development projects were funded, and around 5,000 new producers were trained. By the next year, 40 projects were funded.
As time goes on, more and more people are recognizing the value of knowing where their food comes from and of eating locally raised foods, and your farmers markets are proud to serve your neighborhood. We encourage you to come down to the market and meet out farmers face to face and ask them questions about how and where their food was grown and raised. After all, we want you to “Know Your Farmer and Know Your Food”!
For more information and interactive maps, go to http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/knowyourfarmer?navid=KYF_COMPASS