man buying vegetables from a vendor at a farmers' market and woman looking at the produce

What is the Statewide Cooperative Partnership?

In 2020, we joined with the University of Minnesota (UMN) to launch the "Statewide Cooperative Partnership for Local and Regional Markets" (the Partnership) with funding from the USDA Federal State Marketing Improvement Program.

The Partnership is a group of 40+ organizations that provide input on the diverse experiences of small- and mid-sized producers, retailers, and consumers across the state.

What does the Partnership do?

The Partnership:

  • Builds relationships and works together to support market issues and needs.
  • Promotes and pursues coordinated, data-informed strategies to build market opportunities for Minnesota producers, including emerging farmers.
  • Supports program development at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and elsewhere, based on data, to better serve small- and mid-sized farms.
  • Strengthens recommendations to the state legislature supporting historically underrepresented and under-supported farmers.
  • Contributes to on-going research about local and regional markets in Minnesota led by partners like the UMN.

"We want to build on the partnerships we have with local and regional markets to help farmers, retailers, public institutions, and consumers in Minnesota. This is a real growth opportunity for our ag economy in the coming years and we need to understand how we can support it." – Thom Petersen, Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner

Beyond the Agricultural Census

Between 2020 and 2023, the Statewide Cooperative Partnership conducted a three-year project to establish baseline data about Minnesota’s local and regional markets and develop a collaborative approach for dedicated, on-going local and regional market support in Minnesota.

This project sought to:

  • Collect data from producers, supply chain partners, and consumers to show market trends and opportunities for small- and mid-sized farms.
  • Supplement the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Services Agricultural Census with data about farmers and markets not fully represented in the Ag Census: emerging farmers, direct-to-consumer sales, and direct-to-institution sales.
  • Design data-informed values and priorities for local and regional market development in Minnesota.
  • Re-envision the Minnesota Grown program to better support small- and mid-sized farms.
  • Develop data management and sharing practices that protect privacy while improving collaboration within the MDA and with stakeholders.

Beyond the Ag Census: Data and Development Strategies for Minnesota’s Local and Regional Markets

"Outside the large-volume, commodity marketing, there is much need for market information (price and volume) for various supply channels that support farms and food businesses in our state. We are excited for the opportunity to work with the MDA and stakeholder groups to help shape the framework to increase market transparency."  Brian Buhr, Dean of the  College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, UMN