Young and Hungry

White House Farmers Market to Open Tomorrow

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack explains the USDA's local farm program.

UPDATE, 5:52 p.m. Weds.: The Los Angeles Times has more details on the market here.

As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign, the White House will launch a farmers market tomorrow in the 800 block of Vermont Avenue NW. It'll run every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. until Oct. 29.

The Chicago Tribune quoted USDA Undersecretary Ann Wright as saying that the market and other programs to support local farming are "very much a part of the president's initiatives to bring more healthy food to underserved communities and children."

According to Y&H fave Obama Foodorama, the opening of the White House market will also coincide with another KYF2 initiative: Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan "will announce farmers market promotions program grants for markets in the northeast corridor..."

The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign, according to a USDA press release, is designed to break down policy barriers and "help develop local and regional food systems and spur economic opportunity."

Author and organic-food expert Samuel Fromartz interviewed Merrigan about the new program. In addition, here are some of the elements of KYF2, according to the press release:

In the months to come, cross-cutting efforts at USDA will seek to use existing USDA programs to break down structural barriers that have inhibited local food systems from thriving. Today, USDA announced a small initial group of moves that seek to connect local production and consumption and promote local-scale sustainable operations:

* USDA's Risk Management Agency announced $3.4 million in funding for collaborative outreach and assistance programs to socially disadvantaged and underserved farmers. These programs will support 'Know You Farmer' goals by helping producers adopt new and direct marketing practices. For example, nearly $10,000 in funding for the University of Minnesota will bring together experts on food safety and regulations for a discussion of marketing to institutions like K-12 schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and other health care facilities.

* USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service proposed regulations to implement a new voluntary cooperative program under which select state-inspected establishments will be eligible to ship meat and poultry products in interstate commerce. The new program was created in the 2008 Farm Bill and will provide new economic opportunities for small meat and poultry establishments, whose markets are currently limited.

* USDA's Rural Development announced $4.4 million in grants to help 23 local business cooperatives in 19 states. The member-driven and member-owned cooperative business model has been successful for rural enterprises, and bring rural communities closer to the process of moving from production-to-consumption as they work to improve their products and expand their appeal in the marketplace.

* USDA's Rural Development will also announce a Rural Business Opportunity Grant in the amount of $150,000 to the Northwest Food Processors Association. The grant will strengthen the relationship between local food processors and customers in parts of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and will also help the group reduce energy consumption, a major cost for food processors.

As the 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative evolves, USDA will continue to build on the momentum and ideas from the 2008 Farm Bill and target its existing programs and develop new ones to pursue sustainable agriculture and support for local and regional food systems.

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