Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

How Buying Local Food Grows Local Economies

Food
How Buying Local Food Grows Local Economies

The motto "Think Globally, Act Locally" has long been a guiding tenet of the sustainable food movement. But does acting locally really make a difference and if so, what kind of difference? That’s just what a team of economists set out to explore in the study Linkages Between Community-Focused Agriculture, Farm Sales and Regional Growth, published in Economic Development Quarterly (2014). Their results revealed that yes, direct farm-to-customer-sales in the form of farmer’s markets and farm visits do make a difference–but what kind of difference depends where the farms are located and on how well local communities have built up a supply chain to support this kind of local buying.

Local farmer’s markets are found to have a positive effect on total agricultural sales in some areas of the country. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The researchers asked two key questions: First, how are community-oriented farms contributing to agricultural and regional growth? Second, given the importance of major growers and the fact that 75 percent of all agricultural output in the U.S. is produced by less than six percent of all U.S. farms, just how important is agriculture in the economic growth regionally and nationally?

On-farm enterprises that focused their business plans on local communities were labeled community-focused agriculture (CFA). This included farms that sell their produce directly to consumers and generate farm income through agritourism. According to the report, only 6.2 percent of all farms deal in direct sales, and around 1 percent report income from agritourism (all study figures are based on USDA statistics from 2007, the most recent year available).

Studying CFA influence on a national and county-by-county level, researchers found some surprising results. In New England and Mideast counties, regions with well-developed urban centers in proximity to CFA, direct sales increases were associated with increases in total farm sales, as well as personal income growth. Agritourism, on the other hand, was found to have a negative effect on total farm sales.

In the Southeast, increases in direct sales were associated with overall reductions in total farm sales. However, the reverse was true for the effect of agritourism on total farm sales, which was found to be positive in this region and in the Great Lakes.

On a national level, the study found little significant impact of CFA direct sales on total agricultural sales between 2002–2007, but overall, a positive linkage was found between an overall increase in agricultural sales and growth in personal income.

An article in the Penn State News quotes Professor of Agricultural and Regional Economics Stephan Goetz, one of the study’s authors: “We found that for every one dollar increase in agricultural sales, personal income rose by 22 cents over the course of five years. Considering the relatively small size of just the farming sector within the national economy, with less than two percent of the workforce engaged in farming, it's impressive that these sales actually move income growth in this way."

Goetz was further quoted as stating that “at least in certain regions of the country, community-focused agriculture has had a measurable effect on economic growth.”

These findings could help gain support from policymakers and consumers for the promotion of CFA programs.

——–

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

6 Spring Foods to Buy at the Farmers Market

11 Ways to Vote With Your Fork

Which State Best Supports Its Locally Grown Foods?

——–

Yves Adams / Instagram

A rare yellow penguin has been photographed for what is believed to be the first time.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Crystal building in London, England is the first building in the world to be awarded an outstanding BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) rating and a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum rating. Alphotographic / Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

We spend 90% of our time in the buildings where we live and work, shop and conduct business, in the structures that keep us warm in winter and cool in summer.

But immense energy is required to source and manufacture building materials, to power construction sites, to maintain and renew the built environment. In 2019, building operations and construction activities together accounted for 38% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, the highest level ever recorded.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Houses and wooden debris are shown in flood waters from Hurricane Katrina Sept. 11, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jerry Grayson / Helifilms Australia PTY Ltd / Getty Images

By Eric Tate and Christopher Emrich

Disasters stemming from hazards like floods, wildfires, and disease often garner attention because of their extreme conditions and heavy societal impacts. Although the nature of the damage may vary, major disasters are alike in that socially vulnerable populations often experience the worst repercussions. For example, we saw this following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, each of which generated widespread physical damage and outsized impacts to low-income and minority survivors.

Read More Show Less
A gray wolf is seen howling outside in winter. Wolfgang Kaehler / Contributor / Getty Images

Wisconsin will end its controversial wolf hunt early after hunters and trappers killed almost 70 percent of the state's quota in the hunt's first 48 hours.

Read More Show Less
Tom Vilsack speaks on December 11, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware after being nominated to be Agriculture Secretary by U.S. President Joe Biden. Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday was the lone progressive to vote against Tom Vilsack reprising his role as secretary of agriculture, citing concerns that progressive advocacy groups have been raising since even before President Joe Biden officially nominated the former Obama administration appointee.

Read More Show Less