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Mar 16, 2012

USDA - Innovations in Local & Regional Food Distribution

On 16 March 2012, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan issued a report that reviews eight different food production networks and details the distribution of local and regional grown food.  The report is entitled, Moving Food Along the Value Chain: Innovations in Regional Food Distribution.  It concludes that there is a growing commercial demand for local and regional food products and that this is creating new economic opportunities and expanding healthy food access.
La Montanita Co-op in Albuquerque, NM
sell products that are “fresh, fair, and local
Photo: USDA.

This report was compiled by the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). It looked at: network organization, product branding and labeling, infrastructure management, and price negotiation. Over a three year period, it reviewed the following eight marketing and distribution networks:
  1. La Montanita (New Mexico)
  2. Oklahoma Food Co-op (Oklahoma City, OK)
  3. The Wedge Coop (Minneapolis, MN)
  4. Red Tomato (Boston, Massachusetts)
  5. California Alliance of Family Farms (David, California)
  6. New North Florida Cooperative (Marianna, Florida)
  7. Appalachian Sustainable Development (Abingdon, Virginia)
  8. Minnesota Food Association (Marine on St Croix, Minnesota)
The value of this study is that it outlines best practices and details how local and regional producers have addressed key bottlenecks. Some of the areas that need to be addressed and supported:
  1. "The amount and timing of investments made in infrastructure are vital to the success and survival of food value chains;
  2. Preserving the identity of growers on product labels is critical for connecting with consumers, distinguishing the product from the competition and providing traceability;
  3. Informal farmer networks can offer additional flexibility for suppliers and buyers and allow food value chains to be highly responsive to the shifting demands of specialty food markets; and
  4. For-profit businesses, nonprofits and cooperatives all have unique strengths. By partnering with each other within food value chains they can leverage organizational competencies and reduce the risk of failure."
This study expands the work begun by the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food ( KYF Compass )

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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