By Brittany Jablonsky, NFU government relations representative

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass, an interactive web-based document and map highlighting USDA support for local and regional food projects and successful producer, business and community case studies.

The KYF Compass is a digital guide to USDA resources related to local and regional food systems. The Compass consists of an interactive U.S. map showing local and regional food projects and an accompanying narrative documenting the results of this work through case studies, photos and video content. The KYF Compass organizes USDA’s work on local and regional food systems into seven thematic areas. Among the themes covered on the map and in the narrative portion of the Compass are:

Local Food Infrastructure: maps USDA support for food hubs, cold storage facilities, local food processors and other infrastructure and examines how this infrastructure keeps wealth in rural communities.

Farm to Institution: examines programs to connect local food producers and institutions and the results of these initiatives for healthy food access, farm incomes, and students’ understanding of agriculture.

Careers in Agriculture: discusses USDA support for young and beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as opportunities to get involved in agriculture through food business development and public service, and the importance of this work to creating vibrant rural communities.

Stewardship and Local Foods: explains how local food producers are implementing environmentally sustainable practices on their farms and ranches to preserve farmland, forests and natural landscapes across the country.

Local Meat and Poultry: showcases resources for local meat and poultry producers and small processors to succeed in local markets.

Healthy Food Access: highlights tools to connect farmers and ranchers underserved communities to increase access to healthy food for consumers and economic opportunities for producers.

Local Food Knowledge: tracks existing research and identifies opportunities for further understanding of local and regional food systems and their impacts.

The Compass will be a valuable tool for farmers interested in exploring new opportunities to add value to their operations, learning more about USDA programs available for local foods production and infrastructure and discovering some of the best practices in local foods from across the country.

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