USDA needs to return to reality

05/07/2010 10:54:18 AM
The Packer Editorial Board

Fears that USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food supports the elitist/foodie/locavore culture and ignores commercial agriculture appear justified based on a recent spat over the program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture program supports rural communities and small, local growers in an effort to “reimagine” agriculture, said USDA deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

But three U.S. senators, as well as many in the produce industry, say Know Your Farmer ignores the realities of who feeds U.S. citizens and wastes money on feel-good efforts and extravagant travel.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food has the potential to connect consumers with who grows their fruits and vegetables and steer them away from the “it comes from the grocery store” mentality.

This kind of enlightenment can only improve the industry’s image in the eye of the consumer, and certainly, the industry can benefit from emphasis on local, when available.

Unfortunately, Know Your Farmer is being governed by ideologues who seem to equate local with “good” and major producing areas with “bad.”

Meanwhile, USDA funds obscure organizations such as the National Bison Association and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, in addition to trips to Hawaii and other desirable destinations for Merrigan and staff to expound on the program.

The produce industry isn’t asking for subsidies.

All it wants is for the Obama administration to fairly represent the farms, the growers, and the reality of what it takes to provide Americans with the salads, bananas and apples they eat every day.

USDA leadership seems to have a much different agenda.

Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.



Comments (0) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left

Feedback Form
Leads to Insight