USDA Toolkit Designed to help Pitch Local Foods

USDA Toolkit Designed to help Pitch Local Foods
Sara Eckhouse, Chief of Staff - USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

The United States Department of Agriculture has been moving to support local food production throughout the nation. The agency is focusing on bringing new farmers and businesses into rural and urban areas. To that end, as Todd Gleason reports, it has developed an online toolkit entrepreneurs can use to help pitch their ideas to lenders and local governments.

The Local Food System Toolkit was developed…
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The Local Food System Toolkit was developed by the Agricultural Marketing Service or A-M-S along with Colorado State University. It is supposed to help communities reliably evaluate the economic impact of investing in local and regional food systems says the Chief of Staff for AMS Sara Eckhouse.

Eckhouse :40 …pillars for economic revitalization in rural communities.

Quote Summary - The point is to really understand the economic impact of investments in local food systems. How do they contribute to the community and job creation bolstering the local economy. If you’d like to know what the best thing to make your community stronger and more successful economically, you need to understand how different investments will affect available jobs and influence local industry. We see local foods and one of the drivers of economic growth. This why it is one of the Secretary’s pillars for economic revitalization in rural communities.

The Secretary is United Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. He is, as head of USDA, a cabinet level member of the presidential administration. In this case that’s Barack Obama. The Local Food System Toolkit, as rolled out by USDA-AMS says Sara Eckhouse, allows investors and governments to quantify the economic benefits Secretary Vilsack believes can revitalize rural economies.

Eckhouse :29 …that you want to have.

Quote Summary - In a lot o ways I think this is a toolkit for businesses and investors and communities to make the case for investments. It has seven modules for which data must be collected. There are case studies, too. It takes you step-by-step through the process to assess the economic impact you want to have.

Again, The Local Food System Toolkit provides detailed guidance in seven modules to measure and assess the expected economic impacts of local food investments. USDA claims using real-world projects, experiences, and applied research, it provides grounded, credible, and useable assessment methods. The agency hopes the toolkit will be used by policy makers, community leaders, private businesses or foundations to offer specific estimates that will help them decide whether to invest in local food activity.