Economic Sustainability for Local Food - Guest Speaker Brian Potts


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  • Neoclassical economics declares that the most desirable ends are determined by the market… car’s we buy, clothes we wear, houses. But with ecological economics we look a step further… with cars MPG, where were the products made? The clothing factory collapse in Bangledesh? We desire a good car and clothes and a house but we are now also concerned with how those things were made, and will they impact my health or quality of life and in turn decrease my enjoyment or utility of those products?
  • Economic Sustainability for Local Food - Guest Speaker Brian Potts

    1. 1. Economic Sustainability of Local Food Systems Brian Potts, AICP, MURP October 31, 2013 Colorado Sustainability Conference
    2. 2. Define Economics! "Economics is a science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.” – Lionel Robbins (1932) Three guiding questions: 1. What ends do we desire? (utility) 2. What limited, or scarce, resources do we need to attain these ends? 3. What ends get priority, and to what extent should we allocate resources to them?
    3. 3. Ecological Economics • We want to use resources efficiently while respecting nature and intergenerational needs • Maximum sustainable yield: By optimizing the productivity of natural processes, you can harvest a certain quantity of resources without diminishing the ecosystem’s reproductive capacity; reduce waste • … Efficiency is letting nature do what it does best and harvest what it gives us.
    4. 4. Farm as an Ecosystem • Rodale Institute (PA): A farm is like a factory, you put raw materials in, the land with roots is the machinery that produces nutrients, the plants are the product. • Understanding natural processes: – roots and fungus secure nutrients – farmers can produce quality products while reducing inputs and labor and profiting
    5. 5. How local is local? • 100 miles? 500 miles? Within the country? • Local food is expected to have certain superior qualities… Nutritional, natural, small-scale farmed food produced within the minimum distance possible between farm and consumer NYC Foodshed Map – Columbia University
    6. 6. Does Local mean Sustainable? • A local food economy can be a component of sustainability but not entirely • Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs • Food Sustainability Criteria: – Transportation: distance and transport – Production Inputs: nutrient sources, water, GMO or nonGMO seeds, limited use of finite resources – Labor: equity, wage, mechanization, resource cost – Nature of Consumption access, cost, quality (nutritious and fresh)
    7. 7. Neoclassical Econ vs. Ecological Econ • Economics says that free markets will allocate resources efficiently • Ecological economics says markets are never truly “free” because of market failures: Fed policy, monopolies and externalities (e.g.: pollution, health) • An informed consumer would want healthy local food that doesn’t require subsidies and massive inputs of energy to produce or transport food thousands miles away
    8. 8. Historic Food Consumption • 1858: Invention of mason jars (home canning) • Until use of refrigerated transport (1888), most food was produced and consumed locally • Victory Gardens (WWII Museum): 40% of all vegetable production in 20 million gardens • Today’s competitive advantages for exports is dependent on food prices that do not internalize cost of externalities – Impact of air, water, and soil pollution – Prices do not reflect varied nutritional value of food – Market failures: Producer preferences reflect habits and government policy resulting in inefficient market allocation
    9. 9. US Agricultural Land Use • 1/5 of land (408 million acres in 2007) used for crops • 1/4 of land (613 million acres in 2007) used for grazing • 914 million acres in production in 2012 • 1/3 of all US farms are located within metropolitan areas representing 18% of total farmland Above: JBS Swift, Greeley, CO Right: Winter wheat near Cheyenne Wells, CO
    10. 10. Impact of Meat • Average American consumes 200 pounds of meat per year • 287 gallons of petroleum to produce one steer • Cornell University Study (1997): – US could feed 800 million people with the grain that livestock eat – If exported, would boost trade balance by $80 B • Negative externalities: – EPA: Water and air pollution – Taxpayer burden: Costs associated with disease prevention, inspection, outbreak response
    11. 11. 2012 Farm Bill: Upsides National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: • Directive to USDA to create a Whole Farm Diversified Risk Management Insurance product for diversified operations, including specialty crops and mixed grain/livestock and dairy operations. • Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program for direct producerto-consumer marketing channels and “scaled up” local food sales to retailers and institutions. The Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act calls for $30 million a year. • Funding for Community Food Projects receives an increase of $5 million a year for the next 5 years, above its permanent funding of $5 million a year. • Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), which provides research-based information on sustainable agriculture, remains intact with $5 million in annual discretionary funding. • Funding for national organic certification cost-share.
    12. 12. 2012 Farm Bill: Downsides • Congress: delays due to arguments on SNAP funding; lawmakers discussed it on Oct 30th • Still includes subsidies for industrialized grain production • No programs for Community Gardens; expansion of educating young farmers • SNAP should include gardening education to address local hunger, poverty, and nutrition
    13. 13. USDA: CO Ag. Statistics • Land Area: 66.3 million acres • Approximate Cropland: 11.5 million acres • Approximate Irrigated Acres: 2.6 million acres • Number of Farms and Ranches (2011): 36,700 • Average size of Farm/Ranch: 853 acres
    14. 14. Colorado Agriculture • Farm receipts: $6.017 billion – Livestock and Livestock Products: $3.75 billion – Crops: $2.63 billion • Total Production Expenses: $4.45 billion • Total Exports (Est. Value 2010): $115.8 Billion – 61% of exports are meat products • 170,000 jobs, contributing $40 billion to economy • Weld County: #1 in the state, #5 in the US in product sales. $700 million in cattle, $200 million in crops • Why can’t we feed ourselves with local food?
    15. 15. What do we need? • Approximately 7% of all US agricultural land is dedicated to fruit and vegetable production • Garden needed to support an individuals produce needs: 200 sf and 1000 sf • Example: Dervaes Urban Farm in Pasadena: 3900 sf garden produced 7,000 pounds of produce in 2010 (a percentage is sold) • 5.2 million Coloradoans x 1000 sf = 11937 acres… less than 2% of Colorado’s land area
    16. 16. Land Use and Economics: The Good • FDA inspections not required for small-scale farms with less than $500,000 is annual sales • Consumer demand for locally produced food is increasing and producers shifting to meet demand. • USDA: farmer direct sales to consumers $650 million in 1990s to about $1.2 billion in 2011; $4.8 billion when adding retailers and restaurants • Colorado has the agricultural capacity to fully feed its population with Colorado agricultural products
    17. 17. Land Use and Economics: The Bad • • • • Economies of scale: Because external costs are not reflected in price at point of sale, it’s still less expensive for consumers to purchase imported industrially-produced food Food Culture: we expect seasonal produce year-round (e.g.: tomatoes, oranges, etc) Market Momentum: economic infrastructure will reinforce the status quo; slow to change Environmental Changes: Bureau of Reclamation estimates that we could see water supply swings of 30% surplus or shortage due to climate change
    18. 18. Land Use and Economics: The Ugly • Public perceptions of agriculture is that all commercial production is either unsightly, creates odors, or uses harmful chemicals • People don’t want to live next to a “farm” • Zoning prohibits agricultural activities and small-scale farm business in many zoning districts in many jurisdictions • Development is still consuming farmland
    19. 19. Trends • Environmental awareness as a moral value • Recession impact: reevaluating satisfiers, less conspicuous consumption • Economic shift: increasing consumer demand for local food; willing to pay more • Recognition that not all food is equal: two apples can look the same but have vastly different nutritional profiles • Desire to reconnect with food: seeds sales increase, rapid expansion of community gardens, CSAs, farmer’s markets
    20. 20. Where do these trends lead? • Beginning of the end of industrialized food consumption by American’s; industrialized food will mostly be exported • Maximum sustainable yield: farmers will realize that they can profit by partnering with nature; optimize effort and resources • Democratization of food: control over location, quality, and means of production will shift closer to the consumer
    21. 21. How is Colorado Changing? • “Colorado Proud” campaign started in 1999 • April 2013: “Cultural, Heritage, and Agritourism Strategic Plan”: • Three-year action plan • CO Tourism Office very engaged in promotion • Pairing heritage and agritourism is an approach unique to CO
    22. 22. Facilitating Local Food • • • • At least 110 farmers markets in Colorado At least 17 cities allow chickens for private use Craft-brewing promotion CSU and CO Dept of Ag. (CDA) held 16 workshops last year on agritourism • Local jurisdictions and farmers forming partnerships to strengthen local food
    23. 23. Discouraging Zoning • Residential Farms are rarely allowed due to Business License/Home Occupation regulation • High level of resistance to farming for profit on small residential lots • Reality: already some level of informal agricultural economic activity occuring
    24. 24. Encouraging Zoning • Allowance in large lot residential zoning districts for farming, apiary uses (beekeeping), animal and poultry husbandry (E.g.: Lakewood, Wheatridge, Summit County) • After reintroducing low-intensity farming to residential areas, local jurisdictions are expanding the possibilities • Adams County and Boulder County utilizing open space for agriculture and identifying opportunities to expand
    25. 25. Future: The Residential Farm • New housing converts farmland into neighborhoods, but can it still be a farm? • New Urbanist Andrés Duany: “agriculture is the new golf • Old suburbs: attract young people by allowing home-based farming businesses • Imagine neighborhoods marketed to attract small-scale farmers zoned as a mixed-use residential agriculture district
    26. 26. Colorado Food • Colorado’s assets: soil, education, ratio of people to acreage would allow for policies that support urban and local farms • Develop state, regional, and local foodshed plans to manage agricultural assests • Education: youth farming and school gardens • Continued promotion of the Colorado brand; local food should be an economic development priority: multiplier effect
    27. 27. Questions? Brian Potts, AICP, MURP
    28. 28. Sources • • • • • • • • • • • • • U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat, Cornell ecologist advises animal scientists: EPA Ag Land Use: CSU: Weld County Ag Statistics Dervaes Family Urban Farm – Pasadena DOLA – CO Population Data: FDA – Small Farms and the Food Safety Modernization Act: USDA Report on Local Food - Huffington Post: Colorado Dept of Agriculture – Colorado Proud: Colorado Proud Campaign: City of Lakewood: Rodale Institute: April 29, 2010 - Increase in Gardening
    29. 29. Sources • • • • • • • • NYC Foodshed: JBS Swift, Greeley: Wheat: Gallons of fuel to produce a steer: “Ecological Economics,” Herman Daly, Joshua Farley; 2004 National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: 2012 Farm Bill article: Congress to meet on Farmbill – Oct. 28th, 2013: Grant Family Farms Info: Gifford Park Community Garden – Omaha, NE: