Minnesota's agricultural landscape includes a vibrant mix of farms and agribusinesses that sell into local and regional markets, generating an estimated $184 million in economic activity each year.

According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, we have about 3,500 farms that sell directly to consumers, while more than 630 sell directly to retail outlets like grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other institutions. Some of these larger-scale buyers may buy directly from farmers, while others use a growing array of wholesalers, food hubs, and distributors.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) helps farmers, consumers, and wholesale buyers connect with each other. We manage the Minnesota Grown licensing and promotion program, work with innovative producers to build and expand existing markets, and partner with communities and organizations to strengthen our local and regional food systems.

Find out more about services the MDA offers to all the entities along our local and regional value chains:

Minnesota Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Program

This four-year project, funded by the USDA, will build resiliency in the middle of the Minnesota’s food supply chain by investing in infrastructure. The result will be more and better markets for small farms and food businesses and more locally-made value-added products for consumers throughout the state.  

In 2024, the Minnesota RFSI Program will provide competitive grants for aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of locally and regionally produced food products intended for human consumption, including specialty crops, dairy, grains, aquaculture, and other food products (except meat and poultry, which are funded through other programs). The project will also fund business development services for new and established food companies.

If you have questions about the Minnesota RFSI Program, contact kaylee.thornley@state.mn.us.

Statewide Cooperative Partnership for Local and Regional Markets

In the fall of 2020, we joined with the University of Minnesota to begin a three-year Statewide Cooperative Partnership for Local and Regional Markets with funding from the USDA Federal State Marketing Improvement Program. The Statewide Cooperative Partnership is a group of 40+ organizations that will provide input on the diverse experiences of small- and mid-sized producers across the state. Sign up to receive updates about this project in our Local and Regional Marketing newsletter.

Minnesota Grown

For more than 30 years, Minnesota Grown has helped link customers to sources of locally grown products, including fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, flowers, and fiber, along with agritourism opportunities.

  • Producers can join Minnesota Grown to use the logo and related resources in marketing their products.
  • Consumers can search the Minnesota Grown Directory to find out how to buy directly from the producer.
  • Restaurants, schools, grocers, and other businesses can use the Wholesale Directory to find local farmers and producers that sell in these markets.

Farm to School and Institution

Farm to School and Institution connects schools, communities, and other institutions with local food producers to obtain fresh, healthy food. We are an active partner in this work by providing support, training, and funding to producers and schools. Contact us if you are interested in learning more.

Starting a Food Business Roadmap

The Starting a Food Business Roadmap tool and reference guide can help farmers and food entrepreneurs be successful.