Regional Food Supply Systems

PRS Briefs
Friday, March 26, 2021

From 2007 to 2017, the economic output of the Vermont food system expanded by 48 percent.1 The increase in local food products parallels the increasing consumer demand for local food throughout the state.2 The goal of this report is to understand the current regional food supply systems in Vermont and assess how the state government might support the expansion of these systems. The development of local and regional food systems has tremendous economic, environmental, and social benefits for both urban and rural communities. However, barriers such as high transaction costs, limited infrastructure, and insufficient intermediaries make it challenging to connect small, local farms with retailers and consumers. Our analysis surveys existing literature about local food supply chains and food hubs, which improve local food distribution by aggregating local products for sale to large buyers.
We then present the methodology to explore further this research question following a case study approach. By comparing food hubs and distribution networks in Vermont with those in Iowa, interviewing stakeholders, and analyzing government involvement, we aim to address how the Vermont House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry may best support the growth of the local and regional food industry in Vermont.