The Local and Regional Foods Division conducts research across a variety of agricultural market channels which aids in the development of increasingly resilient food supply chains. This division’s work aims to strengthen urban/farm linkages and business strategies within three main areas: farmers markets, food value chains, and food hubs.
Farmers markets are an integral part of the U.S. food system, allowing consumers to access locally grown, farm fresh produce, and enabling farmers with the opportunity to develop personal relationships with their customers. Direct marketing of farm products through these channels continues to be an important sales outlet for agricultural producers nationwide.
Food value chains represent an innovative business model in which agricultural producers, manufacturers, buyers, and other related supply chain actors form collaborative, transparent partnerships, with a common desire to promote social improvement. Social or environmental mission values are incorporated within the traditional scope of product differentiation strategies and help support local economies, environmental preservation stewardship, and expanding community access to fresh food.
Food hubs are an important subset of food value chains. By offering a combination of aggregation, distribution, and marketing services at an affordable price, food hubs make it possible for many producers to enter larger-volume markets that boost their income and provide opportunities for scaling up production.
These areas of research continue to grow as the division expands to include the new Regional Food Business Centers that will spur more work related to food systems networks and policy issues. In addition to these market channels, AMS researches a variety of issues related to local and regional food systems, such as farm to institution, urban agriculture, and local meat production.
Recently Completed Projects
- The Local and Regional Food Systems Resilience Playbook (July 2023)
- Food and Agriculture Mapper and Explorer (April 2023)
- NASDA GroupGAP Toolkit (December 2022)
- Local and Regional Food Systems Response to COVID-19 (Ongoing)
- Shared Kitchens and Food Startups (August 2022)
- Evaluating USDA AMS Grant Programs Successes and Challenges (November 2021)