WASHINGTON, April 22 (UPI) -- The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative emphasizes the need for a reconnection between U.S. farmers and consumers, federal officials say.
Building from the 2008 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture program is an effort to revitalize rural economies by supporting local and regional food systems while providing fresh, local food to communities.
Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture, says one example of how farmers can get involved is to participate in local farm-to-school programs that enable schools to feature healthy, locally-sourced products in their cafeterias.
"The USDA currently is sending teams out to select school districts to work on farm to school issues," Merrigan says in a statement. "Some of these programs also incorporate nutrition-based studies, as well as food-learning opportunities such as farm visits, gardening, cooking, and composting activities."
The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Web site, at www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer, helps link farmers to customers.
The USDA forecasts consumer demand for locally grown food will increase from an estimated $4 billion in 2002 to $7 billion by 2012.