Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) is a USDA-wide effort to carry out President Obama's commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems.
A surge in consumer demand for locally-produced food is creating jobs and opportunity throughout rural America. Beginning farmers are finding an entry point into agriculture through local markets. Experienced farmers are diversifying their sales to capture added value through local branding. Small businesses are developing new packing, processing, distribution and retail opportunities. And consumers are learning more about where their food comes from and gaining access to fresh, local foods.
Local and regional food is already a multi-billion dollar market and growing quickly:
- The number of farmers markets has grown by 67 percent since 2008; there are now more than 7,800 listed in USDA's National Farmers Market Directory.
- All 50 states in the U.S. have agricultural branding programs, such as "Jersey Fresh" or "Simply Kansas".
- As Governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack started one of the first food policy councils. Today there are nearly 200 food policy councils (PDF, 423KB).
- Food hubs, or facilities that aggregate, market and distribute local and regional foods, are popping up around the county to connect local farms and ranches with larger-volume buyers. There are now more than 220 food hubs in operation nationwide, up by 68 percent since 2008.
- Local food has topped the National Restaurant Association's Top 10 Consumers Trends list since 2009.
Local and regional markets often provide farmers with a higher share of the food dollar, and money spent at a local business often continues to circulate within community, creating a multiplier effect and providing greater economic benefits to the area.
USDA has responded to the growing interest in local and regional foods through the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2). Our mission is to support the critical connection between farmers and consumers and to strengthen USDA's support for local and regional food systems. Through KYF2, USDA integrates programs and policies that:
- Stimulate food- and agriculturally-based community economic development;
- Foster new opportunities for farmers and ranchers;
- Promote locally- and regionally-produced and processed foods;
- Cultivate healthy eating habits and educated, empowered consumers;
- Expand access to affordable fresh and local food; and
- Demonstrate the connection between food, agriculture, community and the environment.
To make the most of USDA programs available to support local and regional food systems, KYF2 works to foster innovative, effective and open government. The initiative is carried out by a task force of USDA employees representing every agency within the Department. It breaks down bureaucratic silos, develops common-sense solutions, and fosters new partnerships inside USDA and across the country.