Local Foods: Lessons Learned from the Sandhills Taylor Williams Agricultural Extension Agent Moore County December 30, 2011
Conventional Food Systems versus Local Conventional food 1500 miles (avg) Farms produce commodities Agribusiness adds value, marketing, distrubution Low cost drives production Farmers receive 17% of retail value Local food Within defined distance Farms add value Market demands drive production Farmers get 40 – 100% of retail value
Farmers are essential to community sustainability Food security Foundation for other commerce Environmental stewardship Quality of life
Farmers need friends! Land is their largest financial asset Regulations are onerous Labor is greatest cost Market barriers are everywhere –Consumers drive markets –Markets determine margins –Farmers and consumers do not understand one another
Headwinds for Farmers Age Debt Labor Market barriers New Regulations Capital Investment Land Costs, Encroachment
NC Farmland Losses 2002-07 600,000 acres lost Buncombe, Edgecombe,Hyde, Moore, Perquimans Each lost >20,000 acres –NCDA&CS Agricultural Statistics –NC Farmland Transition Network
Community Support: Sandhills Local Foods Committee First Health Sandhills Community College Sustainable Sandhills Communities in Schools Chefs Master Gardeners Food Bank Farmers
The Benefits of Eating Local Paige Burns, Horticulture Agent Richmond County
Consumer choice governs market Which Chicken would you buy? Local, free range - $5/lb Conventional - $2/lb
Current Military Process for Food Farmers Cannot deliver to base Produce purchased by Prime Vendor with multi-year contract Farmer brings product to warehouse, aggregated Warehouse is 100 miles, farm is 5 miles from base. Must have G.A.P.s = Good Agricultural Practices
GAPS Market Barriers –Schools, Hospitals, Military Hands-on GAPS training Partners helped pay for training, and for expenses related to Audit
Challenges to mid-sized farmers If you get GAPS certified, we will buy your produce Really?
Carrot farmer 600 acres of carrots GAPS certified since 2010 Out of pocket costs: $1.5 million GAPS has not resulted in military purchases, even though he is 5 miles from Camp McCall Holder of contract bankrupt
Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative "Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Hello Neighbor Welcome to Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative http://sandhillsfarm2table.com/
"We're all in this together 1,230+ Household Members (3.5% of population) $300,000 in sales of local produce 2010 (first year) –$450,000 (2011) 70% of the food dollars to the farmer. Collaboration with Sandhills Partnership Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative "Neighbors Feeding Neighbor s
We Are A Community We Are A Cooperative Corporation Three Groups –Farmers –Consumers –Workers Neighbors feeding neighbors Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative "Neighbors Feeding Neighbor s
Farm to School Collaboration with CIS through Food Corps GAPS required Sweet potatoes served to all students
Farm to Restaurant Local sourcing of meats and vegetables produce Sandhills has applied to be a Slow Food Chapter
Moorefit University Farm Tours Workplace garden Collaboration with FirstHealth, Pinehurst Resorts, Master Gardeners Introduced raised bed vegetable Gardens at 8 workplace partners
Farm Tours Boosts local demand Acquaints public with the value and vexations of farming Participants provide valuable feed back on farmers markets and farm visitor readiness
Farmer Reaction against Local Food Local food motivated by negative perception of agriculture Agriculture is messy, smelly, dirty Agriculture is conservative Producers produce. –They avoid public. –They distrust government efforts to help them.
Agribusiness Contribution to NC Economy 17% of NC Economy 17% of workforce Includes food manufacture, chemicals, and restaurants Food System is largely conventional Mike Walden www.cals.ncsu.edu
Green Revolution (1950-2000) Norman Borlaug –Nobel Peace Prize, 1970 Over 1 billion were spared starvation. Grain yields increased 6X in developing world*. Asian economies transformed from subsistance agriculture to industrial powerhouses. The WW II generation met the challenge of its time w.r.t. food production. * www.wikipedia.org Norman Borlaug 1914-2009 www.nobelprize.org
Lessons learned Farmers need and deserve the respect and attention of broader society. Food systems, both local and conventional, are driven by consumer choice. Consumers, local business, and institutions must be part of development. Local foods is easier for farmers markets and food hubs than for institutions. Both Food systems, Conventional and Local, have benefits and challenges. Nothing is gained by contempt for any food system.