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The impetus for this guide and the work it reflects originated with the establishment of USDA's "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" (KYF2) Initiative. Launched in 2009, the mission of KYF2 is to strengthen the critical connection between farmers and consumers and support local and regional food systems. As such, it is closely aligned with the broader mission of USDA to support agriculture, rural development, and healthy nutrition. While there is no office, staff, or budget dedicated to KYF2, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan chairs a task force of USDA employees representing every agency within the Department in order to break down bureaucratic silos, develop commonsense solutions for communities and farmers, and foster new partnerships inside USDA and across the country.
We consider a food sector "innovation" to be a discrete program, project, or policy that relies on a new business model, or provides new products and services that either deliver or have the potential to deliver significant socioeconomic, health and nutrition, and environmental benefits, with an emphasis on economic development. These can include healthy foods produced entirely in or near a city as well as foods that are produced sustainably, using growing methods that protect and restore the natural environment. Regarding "local food," there are almost as many definitions as there are cities. No single definition, whether based on a geographic boundary or a specific distance, works in each and every city. Thus, the pursuit of a universal definition is of limited value for the purposes of this Roadmap. By comparison, the values of producing food in urban regions are diverse, including the creation of a more self-sufficient food system that is better insulated from global conditions, albeit more connected to local ones. Regardless of where food is grown, caught, or raised, cities can garner most of the economic benefits by expanding the number of local ventures that add value to food through processing, distribution, marketing, service, and sales.