National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

Are we seeing the decline and fall of the local food movement?

Does the departure of Kathleen Merrigan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture signal the beginning of the end for the local food movement at the institutional level at the USDA?

There is certainly a high amount of buzz about the departure of Kathleen Merrigan.

The Mother Nature Network chronicled some of her accomplishments at USDA.

Of course, Merrigan was part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative and helped create Farm to School Tactical Teams. She loved farmers markets and was a supporter of funding for organic agriculture.

More from Obama Foodorama here.

 I asked the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group on LinkedIn a question about Merrigan and her influence on the local food movement.

Here is the question:

How influential was USDA Under Secretary Kathleen Merrigan in the rise of the local food movement in the past four years?

• Extremely influential

• Important

• Modest impact

• No real influence

Looking ahead, it is interesting to observe that no mention has been made about future plans for Merrigan. Is she headed back to academia or perhaps being readied for another high-level Obama Administration post?

Most importantly for agriculture, who fills her shoes at USDA? I’ll bet whoever that individual is, his or her profile will be nothing like that of Kathleen Merrigan. For that reason, the departure of Merrigan is the beginning of the decline and fall of the institutionalized local food movement at USDA.