The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), University of Minnesota (UMN), and members of the Statewide Cooperative Partnership for Local and Regional Markets have concluded a three-year project to collect baseline data on Minnesota’s local and regional agricultural markets. The data, along with a new strategic framework for market development, are now available for public use.
“We are grateful for the many partners that played a role in the Statewide Cooperative Partnership over the last three years,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “Never before have we had this level of information to guide our work on local and regional markets. The data and strategic framework that came out of this project provide us with new perspectives on how we can equitably support farmers and producers, retailers, public institutions, and consumers in Minnesota.”
Funded by a three-year grant from the USDA Federal State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP), the MDA, UMN, and over 40 partner organizations surveyed Minnesota producers, supply chain partners, and consumers in 2022 to supplement data from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Agricultural Census.
“The data from our surveys and outreach help tell a more holistic story of the experiences of small and medium-sized farmers in Minnesota and pathways to effectively support them, in a structured way for the first time,” said Dr. Hikaru Peterson, the lead researcher for the project and a professor of applied economics in the UMN College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. “We look forward to using these findings to expand collaborative efforts to strengthen Minnesota’s local and regional markets.”
Thanks to outreach efforts of partners around the state, the producer survey reached many small, mid-sized and emerging farmers not previously represented in Minnesota’s agricultural data. Of the 497 Minnesota producers who completed the survey, only 37% were represented in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The supply chain survey and consumer survey collected additional information to better understand purchasing factors, preference and demand for Minnesota products, and barriers to buying local.
The Partnership used data from all three surveys to develop a framework of seven priority areas and twenty strategies for building market opportunities for Minnesota producers, supply chains, and consumers. The priority areas include procedural equity; relationship building with tribal nations; outreach, education, and engagement; and built and organizational infrastructure.
Examples of specific strategies under the seven priority areas include:
- Provide more technical assistance, training, and information for emerging farmers that are culturally appropriate and offered in multiple languages;
- Sustain and expand programming aimed at getting more local food into institutions, retail stores, regional distributors, and places where consumers already shop; and
- Collaborate with USDA to increase producer participation in the Census of Agriculture, and identify and invest in ways to collect supplemental data every few years that is needed to support local and regional market development in Minnesota.
The full data reports and action framework can be accessed through the Statewide Cooperative Partnerships website. The MDA and UMN also hosted a webinar to introduce the findings, which can be viewed on the MDA’s YouTube channel.
The Statewide Cooperative Partnership will continue to meet regularly to discuss local and regional market data and needs, pursue collaborative approaches to market development and support, and nurture relationships across our food system. These meetings are open to all who are interested in supporting and expanding this work.
Logan Schumacher, MDA Communications