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Fact Sheet: USDA Invests in New Market Opportunities in Local and Regional Food Systems

Over the course of the Administration, USDA has created new economic opportunities in the growing market for local and regional foods for new and established farmers, ranchers and small food business entrepreneurs. Through investments at the farm level in the form of production research, credit and conservation assistance; infrastructure investments that connect farmers and consumers; and strategies to increase access to healthy foods in rural and urban communities, USDA has helped the market for local food grow to an estimated $11.7 billion in 2014. Between FY 2009 and FY 2014, USDA invested more than $800 million in more than 29,100 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects.

Helped Farmers and Ranchers Tap into New, Local Markets

Improved Infrastructure to Connect Producers with New Markets

  • Made over 900 investments in local food infrastructure between FY 2009 and FY 2015- including food hubs, local processing facilities and distribution networks - to help connect farmers and consumers through strong regional supply chains and create jobs along the way.
  • Supported a near doubling of the number of food hubs between 2009 and 2014, with more than 300 now operational around the country. USDA investments help plan, design and build hubs, while USDA research informs best practices and helps lenders understand how to work with these unique businesses. Food hubs aggregate products from small and midsize farms and distribute them to large-volume buyers, such as grocery stores, in the local region. On average, each food hub supports 20 jobs and generates nearly $4 million in annual sales.

Improved Access to Healthy, Local Food

  • Expanded access to healthy foods in underserved communities by increasing the number of farmers markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Over 6,000 farmers markets and direct marketing farmers now accept EBT, and SNAP redemption at farmers markets nationwide rose from $4 million in 2009 to over $18 million in 2014.

Sharing USDA's Tools That Support Local Food Systems

The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative (KYF2) coordinates this work across the Department, ensuring that USDA's programs and policies are evolving to meet the needs of this growing sector of agriculture. The KYF2 website is a one-stop shop for resources and information about USDA programs and support for local and regional food systems. In addition to featuring information about relevant grants, loans, research and other tools, the KYF2 website features the Compass, which maps over 4,500 federally funded local food projects on the Compass Map from USDA and 11 other federal agencies between FY 2009 and FY 2014. All of the data on the map are downloadable, searchable and updated annually.


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