The Struggle of Small Scale Agricultural Producers
The first Indiana Local Food Summit was held in Indianapolis on October 6th earlier this year. Local Food entrepreneurs in all aspects of the field met to network and learn from each other. I attended the summit to learn more about the operations and struggles of local food producers. After several workshops and discussion sessions, I came away from the conference with two conclusions. First, small scale farmers lack the resources and knowledge to develop the kinds of marketing and economic infrastructures that big agriculture has. They are struggling to make their products available to the people who want to buy them. Without outside support and development, many farmers are struggling to make their businesses economically viable. Second, the people working in locally sourced food are very intelligent, hard working, and driven. When these people communicate with each other and share ideas, they are incredible problem solvers. However, their opportunities to address challenges and curate beneficial discourse with one another is limited and difficult.
Local Food needs better market development. The establishment of Food Hubs and the efforts of the Local Food Research & Development branch of the USDA are heading in the right direction, but more can be done to improve the state of Local Food. Our project aims to connect the individual efforts of the groups working in small scale agriculture, provide networking channels between these different groups, and build stronger economic connections within local markets. We will never feed the world if we cannot get our food to the people who are going to eat it.