Heaven forbid that the USDA finally support the local effort to help the public connect with small farmers to help them understand where their food comes from and how it gets to their plate.
Farmers' Markets Today, May/June 2011
Three Senators attacked USDA'S "Know Your Farmer" Campaign
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack received a sharply worded letter against the ag department's Know Your Farmer program from Sen. John MaCain (R-AZ), Sen. Ag Comm. Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and House Ag Comm. Member Pat Roberts (R-KS).
Argi-Pulse reported that the contents of the the letter included, "while the concept of educating consumers about production agriculture is a worthwhile endeavor, we have serious misgivings about the direction of the Know Your Farmer program." The letter charged that the Know Your Farmer initiative also included "Subsidizing the so-called locavore niche market" with $65 million this year, and claimed that the USDA 'pledged to deliver more in Fiscal Year 2011."
The Senator's letter charged that 'this spending doesn't appeared geared toward conventional farmer who produce the vast majority of our nation's food supply, but is instead aimed at small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets."
Additional charges are related to spending "rural Development funds on feel-good measures" and how 'propping up the urban locavore markets addressed their [American families and rural farmers] needs." The letter also requested that USAD provide proof of congressional authority to spend money for Know Your Farmer purposes along with a full accounting of all spending.
Agri-Pulse has posted the MaCain/Chambliss/Roberts letter for public review online http://www.agri-pulse.com/20100429H1.asp -- use the link there to see the full letter.