Skip to main content

Introducing..... The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass

Posted by Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan in Food and Nutrition Farming
Jan 13, 2020

Are you a farmer, rancher or food business entrepreneur interested in local and regionally-produced food?

Are you a community leader wondering how local and regional food systems can help your local economy?

Are you a consumer interested in learning more about where your food comes from?

Now you can learn more about USDA’s support of local and regional food through the new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass.  The Compass is an online multi-media narrative with stories, pictures and video about USDA’s support for local and regional food systems and an interactive map of USDA-supported local and regional food activities in all 50 states. With the Compass, you can navigate USDA resources for local and regional food; meet farmers, ranchers, businesses and communities in your state that are participating in local food chains; and learn about local and regional food projects across the country.

Released today, the Compass showcases USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative. The Initiative was launched in 2009 to coordinate the work of USDA’s 17 agencies and many staff offices that invest in local and regional food systems.  Since then, USDA has supported nearly 4,500 seasonal high tunnels (or “hoop houses”) to help farmers extend their growing seasons. We’ve also seen the number of number of farm to school programs jump from 400 in 2004 to over 2,300 in 2011 and the number of operating farmers markets blossom from 4,685 in 2008 to over 7,100 in 2011.

But we at the USDA know that local food is about so much more. It’s about places like Idaho’s Bounty Food Coop in Ketchum, Idaho which received a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to expand delivery of local food from warehouse to retail.  It’s about Ohio State University in Cleveland Ohio which used a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant to expand BEAN’s (Beginning Entrepreneurs in Agricultural Networks) ability to train new farmers and to develop 3,300 city acres into food enterprises. It’s about the Diamond B Farm in New Durham, New Hampshire where farmer Meghan Bickford secured funding from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to create a rotational grazing plan for her herd of Belted Galloway and Angus cattle, build a ground gutter and grassed waterway to treat barnyard runoff, and implement a forest stand improvement plan.

The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a valuable resource documenting the innovation, entrepreneurship and impact of local food systems across the country. It is driving job growth, keeping farmers and on the land, and keeping wealth in rural communities. We invite you to dive deep into this new tool, and be inspired by the stories it tells and the ideas it can spur for you and your community.

You can also join us for a “virtual conversation”  on Twitter about local and regional food on Monday, March 5 from 2:30-4:00 pm. Follow hashtag #KYF2 and tune in at 2:30pm ET.

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition Farming

Write a Response

CAPTCHA This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Feb 29, 2012


Jamie S
Feb 29, 2012

If USDA & Vilsack are so supportive of American SMALL farms & Local farms, then why is he supporting FRANKEN-FOODS and MONSANTO!!?!?!?!?!

Jamie S
Feb 29, 2012

Re: "comment awaiting moderation"): oh yes, censorship - what a surprise. Guess Americans aren't free to voice their opinions.

Lisa H.
Mar 05, 2012

A great start to identifying local food networks, but I was amazed at the lack of information in the map. By limiting the tracking of only those business and producers for whom the USDA provided funding, a lot of food businesses, farmers, and supporters have been left off this map. As a result, the USDA has created an incomplete picture of the local food system. I live in Athens County, Ohio and the biggest issue I have with the map is that it does NOT well represent the food network in my region. There are many dozens of food producers around here who provide goods via our thriving farmers' market; restaurants that serve primarily locally produced foods; major chain grocers with sections of locally produced foods; and the important KYF one-on-one, farmer to consumer relationships. They do not show up on the map simply because they did not take USDA grant money; however, I know one USDA grant recipient here who could easily have provided that information. How do you plan to track that very important part of the local food economy picture?

Sheilah Davidson
Mar 05, 2012

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful work! It's very exciting to see these efforts continue to grow with the Compass as well as the new Farm to School Director and team. I'm wondering if you will be continuing to build on administrative initiatives related to providing more flexibility on USDA Foods, such as in the Michigan and Florida pilots and what you will be doing to ensure that the unique needs of schools are considered in initiatives to support food hubs.

J Richardson
Mar 06, 2012

I'm wondering where I can find the video from yesterday's "virtual conversation" -- is it archived somewhere online?

Mar 08, 2012

JamieS, if you want big business OUT of your food, and I would too,why not support the efforts to get the small farmers' voices heard, like this one maybe?

Apr 02, 2012

Ahhhh. Let the games resume. If and when repcis on the grocey shelf do go up grocery stores like Walmart, Price Chopper, etc. will say they had to RAISE THEIR PRICES because their suppliers (dairy processors) like Deans & Kraft RAISED THEIR PRICES. And the dairy processors will say they had to RAISE THEIR PRICES to the stores because of higher input costs from those damn dairy farmers! Everyone gets to RAISE THEIR PRICES except well, we know who those damn dairy farmers. Oh, let's not forget the haulers if and when fuel goes thru the roof.It may explain why Kraft is working overtime to lower the farmgate price. The dairy processors have probably come to the conclusion that we dairy farmers have had it too good for too long! It's time they lowered OUR PRICES.Here's the irony, when dairy repcis on the grocery shelf do go up most consumers will think dairy farmers are getting rich! We've had our city friends tell us that in the past.This not news to anyone here on this blog but we're the only player in this supply chain that doesn't get to RAISE OUR repcis in response to increased operating costs. And the mega dairy coops that we have fooled ourselves into thinking we're MEMBERS of and we thought were looking out for our best interests have turned out to be completely worthless because they're always in bed with the processors.The madness has to stop!

H. King
May 09, 2017

Oh no! Where did the compass go??

Ben Weaver
May 09, 2017

@H. King - While the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food brand no longer exists, all of that valuable content is still readily available. The easiest way to get to it is to go to Topics > Food and Nutrition > Local and Regional Food Sector. You can also access this and all related information directly on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) website at

Sherri Pinero
Oct 16, 2017

Is "Know your farmer know your food" website and program still available? I cannot find the site. I hope it was not taken down. I loved it!!

Ben Weaver
Oct 16, 2017

@Sherri Pinero - thank you for reaching out to us. We’ve recently launched a new website.

While the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food brand no longer exists, all of that valuable content is still readily available.  The easiest way to get to it is to go to Services > Local Food Research & Development > Local and Regional Food Sector.

You can also access this and all related information directly on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) website at

Obiagele Lake
Mar 07, 2018

does know your farmer, know your food provide any grants?