Project Summary


Explaining Linkages Among Farmers and Consumers in Local and Regional Food Systems to Enhance Rural Development

Local/regional food systems are a promising entrepreneurial solution for rural development and may enhance the prosperity of at-risk small and medium sized farms and improve the health and well-being of consumers. Our bi-state research project examines these questions:

  • What are the impacts of local/regional food systems on rural communities?
  • How do they impact the prosperity of small and medium-sized farms?
  • Are consumers in both rural and urban areas likely to participate?

The long-term goal of this project is to fully realize the potential of regional food systems as a strategy for rural development. The objectives are:

  • To develop research-based profiles of small and medium sized farmers who market their products in local/regional food systems.
  •  To calibrate an economic impact model that enables researchers to quantify farm profitability and local economic impact that come from regional food sales.
  • To specify the factors differentiating food buyers in rural and urban areas, and those buying directly from farmers from those who do not.
  • To examine the opportunities and challenges for linking farmers (producers) and consumers together in local/regional food systems.

This project has three parts.

1. Producer Survey – We have posted a summary of findings (LFL Producer Summary).

2. Input/Output Interviews – Economic impacts for local communities. 

3. Consumer Focus Groups – 17 focus groups between 2012-2014 were conducted. 

Our research took place in three areas in Missouri and Nebraska

This project is funded by USDA Agriculture Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant No. 2011-67023-30084 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.