The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently kicked off its multi-state “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” campaign. Beginning in Mississippi State University, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan visited the MSU campus to talk with local college students and discuss the role of agriculture in American economic growth and development. The overall goals of the campaign are twofold. First, they hope to clarify the role of agriculture in the U.S. economy and strengthen local agricultural ties to improve the economic health of communities. Second, the campaign seeks to encourage healthy eating habits and to combat obesity in the U.S.
One of the principal goals of the Know Your Farmer campaign is to support local farmers and strengthen rural communities. Citing a disconnect between farmers and consumers, Merrigan stressed to MSU students the need for local connection with agricultural production. She also stressed the appeal of USDA jobs, citing troubling statistics that the agricultural sector is facing difficulties in self-sustaining. As more and more farmers reach retirement age, the nation has fewer and fewer new farmers to take their place. The Know Your Farmer campaign seeks to demystify agricultural work. Finally, the campaign hopes to benefit local farmers, who conversely strengthen the local economy, by promoting the consumption of food grown locally.
This encouragement of local consumption also hopes to combat American obesity rates. Promoting access to fresh, healthy food has been a significant goal of the Obama administration for the last several years. First Lady Michelle Obama has been vocal in her Let’s Move! Campaign, which seeks to fight childhood obesity. The Know Your Farmer program dovetails nicely with the First Lady’s campaign by encouraging communities to eat healthier food and expand access to nutritious food to lower income Americans.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer