In a speech today on the UC Davis campus, Kathleen Merrigan gave a fascinating tour of USDA's bustling and diverse work on local food, healthy food, direct marketing, and rejuvenation of U.S. farming. Some of this work is collected on the USDA website under the heading, Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.
Merrigan is the current Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and a former faculty colleague at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts.
She has a true gift for talking about profound social and environmental principles in an accessible and persuasive way. Although many farmers (and many agricultural economists) get nervous about overly fanatical locavorism, Merrigan is a sort of antidote for everything that divides us. She makes a compellingly pro-farmer argument for local and sustainable food production. At a time when many urbanites are suspicious of USDA, and sometimes even suspicious of the farming community, Merrigan makes both look good. I hope farmers across the country get to hear her speak.
Merrigan's speech today was sponsored by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. She presented the first Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award to a graduate student here.
Here are some links to things mentioned Merrigan's speech: