DETROIT, April 19, 2011 - Agriculture Deputy
Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today released the
results of a nationwide analysis of food hubs and
provided highlights of how Michigan can tap into
USDA's 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food'
initiative, which promotes local and regional food
systems by stimulating community economic
development and facilitating efforts to expand
access to affordable fresh and local food.
Merrigan released the analysis at the Making Good
Food Work conference and highlighted the economic
opportunities of food hubs, an emerging business
model that offers aggregation and distribution
services for small and midsize producers across
"We have a historic opportunity to help win the
future by laying a new foundation for economic
growth, creating jobs and building and
revitalizing critical infrastructure here in
Michigan and in rural communities across America
through supporting and establishing local and
regional food systems as an economic development
strategy to keep wealth in local communities,"
said Merrigan. "This new data clearly demonstrates
that small and midsize farmers can work with a
variety of players to overcome the infrastructure
challenges they face, while creating effective
economic opportunities for their communities at
the same time."
In partnership with the National Association of
Produce Market Managers, the Wallace Center at
Winrock International, and the Project for Public
Spaces, the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your
Food Subcommittee on Food Hubs has identified over
100 operational food hubs in the country and has
conducted in depth analysis of over 70 operational
food hubs. Preliminary survey results of this
- Over 100 food hubs are in operation around
the country, with large clusters of food hubs in
the Midwest and Northeast.
- Average food hub sales are nearly $1 million
- On average, each food hub creates 13
- The median number of small and midsize
suppliers served by an individual food hub is
- Almost all food hubs offer fresh produce and
the majority offer dairy and protein products as
- Nearly 40 percent of food hubs surveyed were
started by entrepreneurial producers,
nonprofits, volunteer organizations, producer
groups, or other organizations looking to build
a strong distribution and aggregation
infrastructure for small and midsize producers.
- Over 40 percent of existing food hubs are
specifically working in "food deserts" to
increase access to fresh, healthful and local
products in communities underserved by
full-service food retail outlets.
This latest research on food hubs was released
at Making Good Food Work, a conference in Detroit,
Mich., sponsored by the CS Mott Group for
Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State
University, University of Wisconsin Extension, the
Wallace Center at Winrock International, Detroit's
Eastern Market, the Food Systems Economic
Partnership and the Detroit Food Policy Council.
Additional support was provided by USDA's
Agricultural Marketing Service and the National
Institute of Food and Agriculture. The meeting
focused on developing effective distribution and
aggregation strategies for regional food systems.
USDA's 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food'
initiative emphasizes the need for a fundamental
and critical reconnection between producers and
consumers. The effort builds on the 2008 Farm
Bill, which provides for increases and flexibility
for USDA programs in an effort to revitalize rural
economies by supporting local and regional food
systems. 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' is
helping to break down barriers that keep local
food systems from thriving, create new
opportunities for farmers, ranchers, consumers and
rural communities, and expand access to healthy
food throughout the country. USDA expects consumer
demand for locally grown food in the U.S. to rise
from an estimated $4 billion in 2002 to as much as
$7 billion by 2012.
One example of how farmers can get involved is
to participate in local farm to school programs
that enable schools to feature healthy,
locally-sourced products in their cafeterias. USDA
sent teams out to various school districts working
on farm to school and the information gathered
during these site visits is being used to develop
and/or reissue appropriate resource materials,
guidance, and technical assistance for both
schools and farmers. Some of the programs visited
also incorporate nutrition-based studies, as well
as food-learning opportunities such as farm
visits, gardening, cooking, and composting
More information about USDA's work on food hubs
can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5090409.
The 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' website,
features social media tools to help focus the
public conversation about farming and food, while
engaging American agriculture and linking
producers to customers.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer
and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination,
write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights,
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC
20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or
(202) 720-6382 (TDD).