"Market Forces: Creating Jobs through Public Investment in Local and Regional Food Systems", a new report by Union of Concerned Scientists (U.S.C.) agricultural economist Jeffrey O’Hara, describes and analyses the growth, current status, and potential future of local and regional food systems in the U.S.
The report gives special attention to direct farmer-to-consumer marketing options. O'Hara reports that the number of U.S. farmers markets increased from just 340 in 1970 to more than 7,000 today, and there are now more than 4,000 CSAs. USDA reports that the sales of agricultural products through direct consumer marketing channels reached $1.2 billion in 2007.
The U.S.C. report highlights the economic advantages that local and regional food systems have for the community, and the challenges to increasing local marketing beyond direct sales. O’Hara also makes policy recommendations to help local and regional food systems overcome challenges and increase access to new markets for both producers and consumers.