October has been a busy month so far for the USDA, with pleasing results for sustainable agriculture advocates.
The organization has launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program, “‘which centers on building buzz around local and regional food systems and “spurring economic opportunity’” (read more at Samuel Fromartz’s Chews Wise). “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,” including, as Fromartz summarizes,
loosening rules on interstate meat commerce, to help smaller processors, and making grants on rural economic initiatives, making it easier for institutions like schools to buy locally, offering grants to improve community food security, [and] emphasizing direct marketing, with the launch of the White House farmers’ market, and farmers’ markets grants on Thursday.
Slow Food USA has more on the new initiatives.
Fromartz also discusses the raft of grants available to farmers, non-profits, and other members of local and small regional food systems, and provides a roundup of reactions from local food advocates.
There’s another blurb and a couple of links on the USDA’s grant initiatives on the NYTimes Bitten blog.
At the beginning of October, the National Organic Program’s new Deputy Administrator began work; he’s Miles McEvoy, who (among other things) led the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) Organic Food Program for 20 years.
The White House Farmers Market launched last Thursday, October 1 to much fanfare.