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

What is the Statewide Cooperative Partnership?

Starting in 2020, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) joined with the University of Minnesota (UMN) on 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.

Why is this project important?

This project will:

  • Identify 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, and direct-to-institutional sales
  • Support the development of data-informed programs and services for small and mid-sized farms
  • Strengthen recommendations to the state legislature that support historically underrepresented and under-supported farmers
  • Contribute to on-going research

"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

What will the Partnership do?

  • Prioritize an equitable approach for collecting baseline data on local and regional markets
  • Design a data-informed roadmap for local and regional market development in Minnesota 
  • Re-envision the Minnesota Grown program to better support small and mid-sized farms
  • Respond to market issues and needs through a collaborative approach
  • Develop data management and sharing practices that protect privacy while improving collaboration within the MDA and with stakeholders

"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 University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences