Project Summary

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 – Done.  We have posted a summary of findings (LFL Producer Summary) and are working on additional statistical analysis of our data.

2. Input/Output Interviews – Done.  Data is currently being sorted and Producer Profiles are being created.

3. Consumer Focus Groups – We will be starting the Focus Groups up again soon, we are currently setting dates and locations.  Focus groups will be held with conventional grocery shoppers in the Northern Ozarks, Old Trails, Southeast Nebraska, and Kansas City in April and May.  A focus group will be held in the Old Trails region with local food shoppers in July.

Our research is taking place in three areas in Missouri and Nebraska: Northern Ozarks, Old Trails Region, and Southeast Nebraska.  The producer survey wrapped up  in April, 2012.  We had almost a 50% response rate.  Thank you so much, producers, for your interest and participation!  We are analyzing the data you’ve submitted and will have some summary reports completed by the end of the year.

We are currently holding focus groups of consumers because we want to know:

  • What information is important to you in making food-purchasing decisions?
  • Do any factors limit your ability to obtain locally produced food?
  • Do you see any advantages associated with locally produced food?

We have and will be visiting local farmers’ markets and retail stores in our areas of interest to recruit focus group participants.  Focus groups are held on weekday evenings, are approximately 1.5 hours in length and participants receive $25 for participating.  If you are interested in participating, please sign up on-line via the the link on the right side of this page or call Jessica Scott toll free at (855) 270-0742.

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.


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