Targeting the Middle of the Chain

ifr160401–078
Targeting the Middle of the Chain
Sam Riskers, Administrator - USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Sara Eckhouse, Chief of Staff - USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

Secretary Vilsack has identified strengthening local and regional food systems as one of the four pillars of USDA’s commitment to rural economic development. Part of this focus in on the middle of the supply chain. Todd Gleason reports USDA is helping to make investments in this space.

Those local food systems investments aren’t all…
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Those local food systems investments aren’t all targeted at producers, or the people who raise food. Some of it says Sam Rikkers, the Administrator for USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service, are aimed at the people in the middle of the supply chain.

Rikkers :31 …to have markets for their goods.

Quote Summary - Well here is what we know. We know at USDA that a huge part of the folks we work for, particularly at Rural Development, are the viability of Americans living in rural spaces. We know that strong connections between rural and urban spaces and communities and businesses is important. If we know the viability of retail outlets were folks are consuming these goods, then we are not creating that pipeline for the growers that we support through other programs to have markets for their goods.

This governmental focus is very much about creating economic activity by stimulating farmers to produce and retailers to sell. Again, here’s Sara Eckhouse from AMS.

Eckhouse :29 …there are real economic, job creating opportunities there.

Quote Summary - Local food at this point is an over 12 billion dollar business, expected to increase to 20 billion by 2019. So, there is a real demand there and to get that food from many of the rural communities to the urban areas, where there is such a high demand for it, we need those middle of the supply chain aggregators, processors, and distributors. And there are real economic, job creating opportunities there.

Opportunities USDA has been funding. In the last six years, USDA invested more than $800 million in more than 29,100 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects. Those dollars have funneled through both Rural Development, that’s Sam Rikker’s agency, and through AMS… that’s where Sara Eckhouse works.

Eckhouse :37 …haven’t had for such a long time.

Quote Summary - AMS also has the local food promotion program. It was created through the 2014 Farm Bill. It offers grants up to $500,000 and smaller planning grants, both of which are helping with that mid-supply chain process. Helping local businesses or communities develop resources. These could be a food hub or a distribution network. Creating those urban / rural connections that connect people to the land. It’s something most haven’t had for such a long time.

USDA believes strong local and regional food systems are helping to revitalize rural and urban communities across the country. It points to the more than 160,000 farmers and ranchers nationwide tapping into growing consumer demand for locally grown products as an example of this strength.