This interactive web-based tool is designed to highlight the economic opportunities offered by local and regional food projects, and demonstrate how building strong infrastructure for local and regional food systems is getting more farmers on the land and expanding healthy food access across the country. The Compass will provide visual mapping of the varied USDA programs at work supporting local and regional food systems and will share producer, business and community case studies, with the hope of inspiring others to get involved.
This message is not new to us at Farm Aid. As our Board President Willie Nelson often reminds us, American family farmers are the backbone of the nation. When farms thrive, Main Street businesses and local communities thrive. We know that family farmers are standing on the cutting edge of flourishing local and regional food systems, and USDA programs are playing an important role in advancing local and regional food system development. We also know, though, that the cards are often stacked against these farmers, and much critical work remains to ensure just markets and equal opportunity for family farmers in the face of extreme corporate concentration and power. We can’t have strong local and regional food systems without a strong base of family farmers.
We’ll be tuning in to the launch here in the office, and hope you’ll join us. We’d love to hear what you have to think about the Compass, and what more USDA can do to help family farmers tap into local and regional markets.