June 4, 2014
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program recently introduced a new “topic room” titled Farm to Table: Building Local and Regional Food Systems, which provides valuable resources for individuals working to build strong food-producing communities. It’s a great one-stop-shop to gather relevant fact sheets, bulletins, webinars, and other educational materials.
SARE is administered through four regional councils that make grants to farmers, ranchers, researchers, and educators for projects that improve the sustainability of American agriculture. The SARE websites contain hundreds of resources, books, and other materials on a wide range of topics, but searching through so much information at once can sometimes be a challenge. In order to organize this abundance of material, SARE created topic rooms, which pull together a collection of information on select topics in sustainable agriculture.
As SARE is a competitive grants research program with a focus on sustainability and farmer-driven research, the information in this newest topic room comes from 25 years of SARE-funded research by farmers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and educators.
Building Local and Regional Food Systems contains information to help farmers tap into the many business opportunities that the local food movement has to offer. It provides information for farmers, ranchers, agriculture professionals, community organizers, and others who are committed to keeping more value in our food-producing communities.
Resources compiled in the topic room are grouped into categories that provide valuable tools for building strong local food systems. Building Local and Regional Food Systems addresses:
There is something for everyone in the topic room, ranging from farm to school information for extension agents to guides to help producers expand or upgrade existing meat plants to recommendations for direct marketing. It includes tools and resources that address the challenges and barriers associated with local food system development.
The new topic room comes at a time when federal investment in local food continues to grow. Last month USDA announced a historic $78 million investment in loan guarantees for local food projects through the Business and Industry (B&I) Loan program plus competitive grants through the Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program (FMLFPP). The resources available in the Building Local and Regional Food Systems topic room provide critical tools to support this growing movement around local and regional food systems throughout the country.