Friday, May 07, 2010

Study: Growing More Veggies Could Profit Midwest

An AP article by Michael J. Crumb, Study: Growing More Veggies Could Profit Midwest, provides a persuasive rebuttal to the complaints of the Republican Senators who recently criticized the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program. These complaints were discussed in a previous post, Senators Challenge Know Your Farmer Program.

An Iowa State University study considered the impact of farmers in six Midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin) raising 28 crops in quantities large enough to meet local demand. It showed that this level of regional production would spur "$882 million in sales, more than 9,300 jobs and about $395 million in labor income." And, the equivalent of "[o]ne of Iowa's 99 counties could meet the demand for all six states," according to Rich Pirog, associate director for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State.
It makes sense to Larry Alsum, who owns Alsum Farms and Produce Inc. in Friesland, Wis. Alsum grows five varieties of potatoes and handles wholesale distribution for farmers who grow a wide variety of produce, including cabbage, sweet corn, squash, watermelons and cucumbers.

"I think it's a win-win scenario, both in opportunities for farmers in the Midwest and reduced cost of transportation that you have in bringing in California produce," Alsum said. "We also see this as an opportunity for people to become more aware of where their food is coming from."
The article also notes, however, that significant impediments exist to bringing about this type of change to a midwestern regional food system.
David Swenson, the Iowa State economist who conducted the research, said it would be a significant shift in how the nation grows food, given that the Midwest ceded production of fruits and vegetables to other parts of the country long ago.

The advent of commodity payment programs in the 1930s, the development of refrigerated trucks and the interstate highway system, and a hodge-podge of other policies encouraged farmers to grow crops where it could be done most efficiently.
The question of efficiency should be reconsidered acknowledging today's recognition of water subsidies, transportation costs, and loss of quality. Those factors seem to point to regional food systems - as envisioned by Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.

3 Comments:

Blogger heybrah said...

Here's the original study out of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture -- go here to download:
http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/research/marketing_files/Midwest_032910.pdf

5/07/2010 10:30 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

This would be great, if regional production was possible in the midwest. But too many acres are in farm programs, and farm programs prevent farmers from planting fruits and vegetables on land that has historically been in commodity grain production. If they do, they have to return their farm program payments (not such a big deal, and fair to other fruit and veggie growers) and pay a penalty to the government equal to the market value of whatever they grow on that land (a huge deal). Plus farmers risk their land being permanently removed from farm program eligibility. That means very few landlords would ever be willing to rent land to a fruit and veggie farmer, a very big deal when well over 40% of farmland is rented in the Midwest.

See this oped from 2008:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/01/opinion/01hedin.html?ei=5124&en=798dd09f9dd9f25b&ex=1362114000&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink&pagewanted=print

5/08/2010 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Law said...

AP article by Michael J. Crumb study: growing more vegetables can benefit from the Midwest offers a convincing counter-arguments and complaints from Republican senators who recently criticized the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program. These complaints dealt with the previous post, the challenge senators Know Your Farmer Iowa State University study examined the effects of farmers in six Midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin) is added to 28 the number of farms are large enough to satisfy local demand. Has shown that this regional production should be stepped up "sales of $ 882000000 for more than 9,300 jobs and about 395 million U.S. dollars in earnings." And is responsible for "[o] for 99 counties in Iowa could meet the demand for all six countries," according to Richard Pirovano, Leopold Center, the deputy director for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State.Law

10/25/2010 11:45 PM  

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