Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities

Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities, published in August 2017 as a partnership between the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's agencies of Rural Development and the Agricultural Marketing Service, focuses on regional food systems as a means for enhancing economic opportunity.

In recent years, consumers have become increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how their food dollars can provide greater support for local food-related businesses and farmers. Over this same time period, policymakers and practitioners have gained new insights into the potential for regional food systems to promote economic growth for both rural and urban communities through the creation of new or the enhancement of existing jobs and businesses. Regional food system stakeholders have also learned that appropriately targeted policies and support can advance the economic and financial security of low- and moderate-income households and communities.

Harvesting Opportunity explores these recent findings, highlights models for collaboration between policymakers, practitioners and the financial community, and discusses research, policy and resource gaps that, if addressed, might contribute to the success of regional food systems strategies. The publication includes a foreword by Lael Brainard, Governor, Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and James Bullard, President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The publication can be viewed separately by article or downloaded in its entirety.

Foreword — Lael Brainard  and James Bullard (PDF)

Chapter 1 — Local Food Demand in the U.S.: Evolution of the Marketplace and Future Potential (PDF)
Debra Tropp, Deputy Director, Local Food Research and Development, Marketing Services Division, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
Malini Ram Moraghan, Principal, Drawing Board, and Principal, DAISA Enterprises

Chapter 2 — The Investment Continuum: Risk, Reward and Impact in Local and Regional Food Systems (PDF)
Malini Ram Moraghan, Principal, Drawing Board, and Principal, DAISA Enterprises
Kate Danaher, Senior Manager, Social Enterprise Lending and Integrated Capital, RSF Social Finance
Gray Harris, Senior Program Director, Food Systems and Natural Resources, Coastal Enterprises Inc.

Chapter 3 — Local and Regional Food Systems Driving Rural Economic Development (PDF)
Becca B.R. Jablonski, Assistant Professor and Extension Economist in Food Systems, Colorado State University
Mary Hendrickson, Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, University of Missouri-Columbia
Stephen Vogel, Agricultural Economist, USDA Economic Research Service
Todd Schmit, Associate Professor, Cornell University

Chapter 4 — Advancing Food Equity through Local and Regional Food Systems (PDF)
Ariel Kagan, Senior Program Associate, George Washington University
Kathleen A. Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability, George Washington University

Chapter 5 — The Importance of Inclusion in Local and Regional Food System Efforts (PDF)
Sasha Feldstein, Master of Public Policy Candidate, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
Joann Lo, Co-Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance
Christina Spach, National Good Food Purchasing Campaign Coordinator, Food Chain Workers Alliance

Chapter 6 — Financing Local and Regional Sustainable Food Enterprises: A Matter of National Security (PDF)
Ron Phillips, Retired President and CEO, Coastal Enterprises Inc.
Daniel Wallace, Loan and Investment Officer, Coastal Enterprises Inc.

Chapter 7 — The Nature of Local Food System Farm Businesses (PDF)
Gary Matteson, Vice President, Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach, The Farm Credit Council

Chapter 8 — Use It or Lose It: Local Food, Regional Processing and the Perils of Unused Capacity (PDF)
Lauren Gwin, Assistant Professor, Crop and Soil Science Department, Oregon State University; Associate Director, Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems; and Director, Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network 
Nick McCann, Michigan Good Food Fund Value Chain Specialist, Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan State University

Chapter 9 — Getting the Margin to Meet the Mission: Food Hub Financial Viability (PDF)
James Barham, Agricultural Economist—Food Systems Specialist, USDA Rural Development
James Matson, Owner and Principal, Matson Consulting

Chapter 10 — Institutions: An Emerging Market for Local and Regional Foods (PDF)
Matthew Benson, Program Analyst, USDA Food and Nutrition Service
Danielle Fleury, Farm to School Regional Lead, USDA Food and Nutrition Service

Chapter 11 — Investing in Innovation: Philanthropic Support of the Local Food Movement (PDF)
Kat Taylor, President, TomKat Foundation; Co-CEO and Co-Founder, Beneficial State Bank; and Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Radicle Impact Partners
Julia Sze, Managing Director, Impact Investing, Arabella Advisors (Julia Sze contributed the introduction to this chapter.)

Chapter 12 — Proving the Opportunity: Community Development Financial Institutions and Food Systems Financing (PDF)
Donna Leuchten Nuccio, Director of Healthy Food Access, Reinvestment Fund

Chapter 13 — Insured Depository Institutions and Local and Regional Food Enterprises: Lending and Investing (PDF)
Kevin Goldsmith, Program Manager, Community Development Tax Credits Group, JPMorgan Chase

Chapter 14 — Investing in the Next Generation of Farmers (PDF)
Jill Auburn, National Program Leader, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Chapter 15 — Bringing Businesses to Life through Competitions, Incubators and Accelerators (PDF)
Lisa Benson, Director, Rural Development, American Farm Bureau Federation

Chapter 16 — Organic: A Solid, Beneficial and Sustainable Investment (PDF)
Maggie McNeil, Senior Editor, Organic Trade Association
Edward Jaenicke, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics, Penn State University

Chapter 17 — Reflecting on Past Progress, Looking Forward to the Future (PDF)
Andrew Dumont, Senior Community Development Analyst, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Jacob Wascalus, Community Development Senior Project Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

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