Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan unveils an updated version of the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Compass...
Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Jon Carson, the White House Director of Public Engagement, on Tuesday afternoon hosted a special White House Hangout devoted to local foods, taking questions online from participants across the US for close to an hour. The digital event on the White House site, Twitter and Google+ celebrated a planned update to USDA's Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Compass. (Above: Carson, l, and Merrigan in action)
The massive Compass, a interactive web-based tool/document first unveiled in March of this year to highlight USDA's efforts with local and regional food systems, now includes new case studies and additional mapped data, including locations for farmers markets, food hubs, and meat processing facilities. There are also enhanced search functions that allow for easier navigation. Merrigan hailed it as "100 percent more navigable."
The Compass will be updated again in four months, Merrigan said.
Six women working on a wide variety of local food initiatives from across the US joined the hangout and spoke about their work. They were Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, MD, who created the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative; Cory Carman of Carman Ranch in Oregon; Chris Kirby, who coordinates a Farm to School program on behalf of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture; Susan Noble, Executive Director of the Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA) in Wisconsin, Pamela Roy, Executive Director of Farm to Table in Albuquerque, NM; and Valerie Segrest, Director of the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, a member of the Muckelshoot Indian Tribe near Seattle, WA.
Click here for an interview with Sec. Merrigan about the Compass.
See also this post about USDA's Guide to Regional Food Hubs, a book created by the agency to "bolster the expansion of market opportunities for small and mid-sized American producers."
*White House photo and video