Finding Food in Farm Country Ken Meter Crossroads Resource Center (Minneapolis) “From the Ground Up” Springfield, Minnesota April 8, 2004
Crossroads’ approach: • Better answers when local residents engaged • Professionals serve resident needs
Crossroads’ approach: • Start by measuring local assets • THEN ask what is missing • Build local capacities & assets
Crossroads’ approach: • Having good numbers matters • Negotiate with strength using solid data
Usually, farm analysts measure: • Specific crops or commodity programs • Specific types of farm operations What do we learn if we take the view of the whole community?
“Finding Food in Farm Country” Southeast Minnesota Partners: Community Design Center & University of Minnesota
Southeast Minnesota’s Food & Farm Economy • 303,000 residents • $10 billion purchasing power each year • 8,436 farm families • 1.4 million farm animals
Southeast Minnesota’s Food & Farm Economy • Stable farm community • Lasting social bonds • Leaders in conservation tillage • Many small farms • One of most diverse farm economies in U.S.
Southeast Minnesota’s Food & Farm Economy However… Houston, MN spent 2 years with no grocery store Fragile, small food businesses are springing up all over How to explain this?
Southeast Minnesota’s Food & Farm Economy • Region’s farmers produce $866 million of food per year (1997) • Spend $947 million to raise it • Lose $80 million in production costs Yet…
Southeast Minnesota’s Food & Farm Economy So… • Farm families require $129 million of other farm-related income to cover their costs • This includes $42 million in federal supports
Finding Food in Farm Country Moreover, as farmers struggle... • The region’s consumers spend $500 million buying food each year • Most bought from outside region
Finding Food in Farm Country In fact… • The average food item in the U.S. travels 1,500 miles from farmer to consumer • Over 60% of the cost of food is an energy cost
Finding Food in Farm Country All told, Southeast Minnesota... • Loses $400 million raising food, & • Loses $400 million buying food • Potential wealth lost each year
Finding Food in Farm Country Total loss is: • $800 millioneach year! • Totals 92% of the value of all food raised in the region
Finding Food in Farm Country If local consumers bought only 15% of their food locally: $45 millionof new farm income earned each year
Finding Food in Farm Country Impact of the study... Southeast Minnesota Farm Network 50 farms & processors work together Goal: $250,000 sales in 2004
Cumulative loss1992-2000 for all farms is $171 million
Two 2003 studies project the US will become a net food importer by 2007
Food sales are concentrated • 40% of groceries sold by 5 chains • Wal-Mart & Sam’s Club are top 2 • 85% of food industries lack competitiveness
Consumption out of balance • 50% of U.S. public school students qualify for free / reduced lunch • 10% of households are “food insecure”
Consumption out of balance • Over half of all adults overweight • Half of elderly seeking medical care are undernourished
Supply & Demand out of balance • Farm prices low due to high production & foreign competition • Researchers focus on producing even more!
Health suffers • Diet-related diseases cause half of all deaths in industrial world • Change in diet could prevent 30% of cancer worldwide • 5,000 deaths due to food poisoning each year in U.S. • 30,000 coronary cases in US could be prevented by eating 1% less fat
Health suffers • 76 million gastrointestinal illnesses treated each year in US (total population 281 million) • Medical costs of obesity amount to $118 billion per year—25% of what all US consumers pay for food each year
Key shifts • From consumers to co-investors • Farming that builds wealth in communities • Shared risk among clustered firms • Farm policy supports rural communities instead of commodities • Reduced energy use
Community-Based Food Systems: Map courtesy of www.FoodRoutes.org
Solid data matters! …Could Southwest Minnesota use a “Finding Food in Farm Country” study?
“Finding Food in Farm Country” http://www.crcworks.org/ff.pdf firstname.lastname@example.org (612) 869-8664
Food with the Farmers' Face on It Media guide covering community-based foods systems W. K. Kellogg Foundation http://www.wkkfweb.org/FSRDFullGuide.pdf
Food service & lodging income rises as farming & manufacturing income falls
Source: USDA in Willard Cochrane, The Development of American Agriculture