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Ne Iowa FFI Overview Driftless

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Presentation given at the Driftless Regional Food Summit on March 23, 2010.

Presentation given at the Driftless Regional Food Summit on March 23, 2010.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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  • Thank you for the invitation to present at the Midwest Value Added Conference. This is an opportunity to share the story of the NE Iowa Food and Farm Coalition. The Northeast Iowa Food & Farm Coalition (NIFF) was the first pilot community selected by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Regional Food System Working Group (2006). We are on the ground floor to improve the policies, practices, and systems that determine how food arrives on our tables and how our communities can expand opportunities for physical activity for all.  We’d like to share with you a little of the background, our vision for NE Iowa and what’s on the horizon to make the vision a reality.
  • NE IA is a special place. In addition to its strong agriculture history, the beautiful topography and landforms of the area make it a unique part of the state. The terrain is generally characterized by beautiful limestone and sandstone bluffs, deeply carved valleys, numerous caves, sinkholes, and rich springs that supply productive trout streams.  The karst topography leaves the water sources vulnerable and exposed. Agriculture in this area must work in harmony with the environment.  
  • For the past 50 years, US agriculture has been moving toward fewer and larger farms and increasing specialization. This type of growth has been slower in NE Iowa due to its topography and rolling hills. Studies have shown that a diversity of farms, including small and medium sized farms mean more business operators and their families involved in community life. A greater diversity of farms can also mean more food choices and smaller farms allow for better land stewardship.
  • The story of the NIFF Coalition started with a simple question. In 2005, agriculture commodity groups in Winneshiek County observed a disconnect between downtown businesses, local chambers and city administrators. They recognized the importance of telling the story of agriculture to area residents.  
  • ISU Extension was asked to facilitate discussions around the current state of agriculture in Northeast Iowa. Commodity leaders worked with ISU Extension to bring in speakers to learn more about what was happening in agriculture. One of the speakers brought in to share information was Ken Meter, an economist who had studied our region’s local agricultural economy. Ken concluded that despite farmers becoming more efficient in their production and farming practices over the past 30 years, they have experienced a cumulative negative cash flow. Ken’s findings were confirmed by economists at ISU, the CARD Institute and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. Then he asked the probing question, “Why don’t we grow our own food in the American Heartland?” Here in Iowa, we have some of the best soils in the world and a good climate for growing crops. Yet we import more than 80 percent of our food, most of it traveling more than 1,000 miles
  • The Leopold Center suggested the group go through a strategic planning process. Through this process, the assets, strengths and opportunities of the area were identified as well as the barriers and challenges. The focus of the conversations quickly narrowed to food production as a strength in the area. The NIFF Coalition currently has members in Allamakee, Clayton, Chickasaw, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin.    
  • Why Local food fits. One of the first projects the NIFF Coalition tackled was learning more about our area. The next slides summarize why local food is a good fit for our area.      
  • Northeast Iowa is an agricultural powerhouse with total sales of agriculture products reaching $685 million each year. This area has 7417 farms ranging in size from 221 to 318 acres compared to the average Iowa farm size of 331 acres. Almost 60% of the farm income is from livestock production compared to the state average of 49%.
  • Farms in this area lead the state in direct food sales. According to the 2007 Ag Census, local farmers sold $1.3 million dollars of food directly to consumers.
  • This area also leads the state in organic production with $3.5 million in sales. These five counties have 10% of the certified organic farms in the state with the majority of farms in Allamakee, Howard and Winneshiek counties. These farms account for 26% of the total organic sales for the state of Iowa. 
  • NE IA Consumers spend over 193 million dollars of this income every year on food. Fifty-six percent of that money is spent on food to each at home while the remainder is spent on food eaten away from home.  
  • We spent a large portion of our time the first years to build the case for our work. I want to spend the remainder of my time briefly highlighting some of the projects and impacts this collaboration has experienced.      
  • Creation of a learning community. The NIFF Coalition became the first pilot community selected in 2006 by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Regional Food System Working Group. Their initial three goals were to provide an opportunity for existing and new producers to diversify, to explore development of regional processing and storage facilities to add value to all agricultural products in the area, and to increase the consumption and sale of locally grown crops. With over 100 members on its listserve, the NIFF Coalition continues to meet monthly with 15-25 members in attendance each month.
  • Creation of a learning community. The NIFF Coalition became the first pilot community selected in 2006 by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Regional Food System Working Group. Their initial three goals were to provide an opportunity for existing and new producers to diversify, to explore development of regional processing and storage facilities to add value to all agricultural products in the area, and to increase the consumption and sale of locally grown crops. With over 100 members on its listserve, the NIFF Coalition continues to meet monthly with 15-25 members in attendance each month.
  • Creation of a learning community. The NIFF Coalition became the first pilot community selected in 2006 by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Regional Food System Working Group. Their initial three goals were to provide an opportunity for existing and new producers to diversify, to explore development of regional processing and storage facilities to add value to all agricultural products in the area, and to increase the consumption and sale of locally grown crops. With over 100 members on its listserve, the NIFF Coalition continues to meet monthly with 15-25 members in attendance each month.
  • Developed a strategic plan. This plan was instrumental in their proposal submission to the W.K.Kellogg Foundation Food & Fitness Initiative. NE IA is one of nine Food and Fitness initiatives across the U.S. The work of the NIFF Coalition has since been integrated into the NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative (FFI).   In April 2007, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation selected NE IA as one of nine communities across the country to become models of change. The Foundation provide NE Iowa with funding to create a multi-year action plan dedicated to addressing policies, practices and systems that support healthy communities. The other eight communities include: Boston, MA; Holyoke, MA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Detroit, MI; Tohodo 0’dem Indian Reservation; Oakland, CA and Seattle, WA.
  • Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative. .. Key messages of the FFI: It’s about people working together to create vibrant communities where the healthy choice is the easy choice. The healthy choice means that every day all people in NE Iowa have access to healthy, locally grown foods and abundant opportunities for physical activity and play.
  • Facilitated institutional purchases of produce, dairy, and meat products. Through the work of the NIFF Coalition and RFSWG, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship clarified its policy on the use of local food by institutions, including schools, care centers and hospitals, and these buyers are again purchasing local fruits and vegetables.   Report sales for 2009
  • Expanded the growing season. In 2008, increased buying interest from institutions led to a local wholesale and retail horticultural company to convert almost three acres of greenhouse space into a home for several types of vegetables and fruits.   Plantpeddler and greenhouse tours
  • Engaged Schools. The availability of off-season produce in the greenhouses led local school districts to realize they could purchase local food for approximately nine months out of the year. As of the spring of 2009, the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative is collaborating with the school system to provide children and their families access to healthier food options.  
  • Increased commitment to buying local. Luther College, a local private college in the region, will contract with local producers for seven high volume food products in 2009, and has committed to purchasing 35% of its food from local producers by 2012.  
  • This is the third year of sales data collection from local food producers in the region. Table 1 shows the total sales of locally grown foods by producers in August 2008-09. Total reported sales for the year were $638,600.46. This reflects an increase of $570,881.46, with 10 new producers or producer groups reporting local food sales. Sales of locally grown products increased $94,686.77 for the three producers or producer groups who reported in 2007-08 and 2008-09.  
  • The NIFF Coalition also collects data on the amount of locally grown food purchased by institutions each year. Table 2 shows the total purchases of locally grown foods by institutions in August 2008-09. Total reported purchases for the year were $544,659.53. This reflects an increase of $212,245.86, with 12 new institutions/organizations reporting local food purchases. Purchases of locally grown products increased $194,037.64 for the three institutions who reported in 2007-08 and 2008-09.  
  • Leverage funding and expertise: In two years, the initial $20,000 provided by the RFSWG in 2006 to support the NIFF Coalition has leveraged approximately $1.2 million in infrastructure and resources for the region. This includes investment in greenhouses, apple and pear trees, grapes, poultry expansions, garden expansions, honey bee production, farm stand marketing, construction of packing sheds, hydroponic production, and much more.  
  • Leverage funding and expertise: In two years, the initial $20,000 provided by the RFSWG in 2006 to support the NIFF Coalition has leveraged approximately $1.2 million in infrastructure and resources for the region. This includes investment in greenhouses, apple and pear trees, grapes, poultry expansions, garden expansions, honey bee production, farm stand marketing, construction of packing sheds, hydroponic production, and much more.  
  • POLICY CHANGE:   The work and changes that are starting to happen in NE Iowa reached Iowa Senator Harkin’s office. In 2008, Senator Harkin's majority professional staff member, Dan Christenson  traveled to Iowa to meet with the NE Iowa collaborative. He said the information and data shared that day would help as he drafts policy around the Child Nutrition Act.  He has since followed up the NE Iowa collaborative on several occasions.  In addition, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack’s staff has requested information from the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative regarding Farm-To-School programs and what is needed to get food into our nation’s schools.   Policy change is an important driver to improve our food system and built environments. Because of the increased discussions surrounding the food and fitness environments, several policy changes have already occurred. Here are some examples.   The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has clarified the policy on the use of local food by institutions, including schools, care centers and hospitals. Because of this change, many local institutional buyers are again buying fruits and vegetables at Farmer’s Markets or directly from local producers.     The Winneshiek County Cattlemen's Association took a proposal to the Iowa Cattlemen's Association to create a policy to support "further research, development and engagement by the beef industry as local food systems and local processing grow to larger markets for our future.”
  •  
  • Together, county and regional team members are developing pathways for everyone to have a voice in creating a new vision for our region It has been exciting to bring together key players, not only from the local food system, but also from the health community and those involved with infrastructure to create a vision for healthier living.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Investing in the future of Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard & Winneshiek Counties
    • 2. Photo of Karst Topography
    • 3. Map of tributaries and water resources
    • 4.
      • The Problem:
      • Producers observed a disconnect between downtown businesses and the ag community.
    • 5. “ Why don’t we grow our own food in the American Heartland?”
    • 6.  
    • 7. Why Local Food Fits
    • 8. Total Ag Sales = $685 million 63% of farm income is from livestock Source: 2002 Ag Census County Farms Acres in farming Average Farm Size Allamakee 1083 80% 301 Clayton 1601 87% 270 Fayette 1344 89% 309 Howard 891 89% 302 Winneshiek 1501 86% 253 State Avg 916 89% 350
    • 9.
      • Sold $1.3 M of food directly to consumers.
      • 2 nd Allamakee: $329,000
      • 7 th Winneshiek: $282,000
      • 29 apple orchards
      • 47 vegetable farms
      • Source: 2007 Ag Census
    • 10.
      • $3.5 million in organic sales
      • 10% of the certified organic farms in Iowa
      • 26% of the total organic sales for the state
      • State Ranking: Organic Sales
      • 1 st Winneshiek
      • 2 nd Allamakee
      • 6 th Howard
      • 8 th Clayton
      • Source: 2002 Ag Census
    • 11. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Dollars Spent on Food each Year Total Income = $1.29 Billion County Food at home (million $) Food away from home (million $) Total (million $) Allamakee 19 14 33 Clayton 24 19 43 Fayette 28 22 50 Howard 13 10 23 Winneshiek 25 19 44 Total 109 (56%) 84 (44%) 193
    • 12.
      • Currently in NE Iowa, less than 1% of food is locally purchased.
      • Shifting 25% of food spending to local sources would stimulate the local economy with 48 million dollars.
      • By purchasing 25% of fruits and vegetables locally, it would create 204 jobs and $10.8 million in labor income and $91 million in total economic activity in the region.
      Local food systems have local benefits
    • 13. The Impact
    • 14. 1. Creation of a learning community
    • 15. 1. Creation of a learning community
      • Geographic Based
      • Function based (diversify)
        • Help producers diversify
        • Explore regional processing, storage
        • Increase consumption
      • FFI brings broader focus
    • 16. 1. Creation of a learning community
      • Organization
        • Over 100 members on listserve
        • Monthly meetings in Decorah
        • Member, partner driven
        • Coordinated by ISU Extension
        • Additional assistance from grant staff, partners, Americorp
        • Current grants: FFI, Leopold Center, IDALS, Community Vitality Center
    • 17. 2. Developed a strategic plan
    • 18.  
    • 19. 3. Facilitated institutional purchases of local foods
      • Local Food Breakfasts
      • Clarified policy of use of local foods
      • Farm to School
      • Local food directory and website
      • Producer workshops
    • 20. 4. Expanded the growing season
      • Plantpeddler
      • Greenhouse tours
      • Certified kitchen
      • Investigating storage and processing
    • 21. 5. Engaging schools
      • Comprehensive Farm to School
      • School gardens
      • Food service education
      • Teacher education
      • Cross-age teaching
      • Home Grown School Lunch Week
    • 22. 6. Increased commitment to buying local
      • Luther College – 35% by 2012
      • Sodexho discussions
      • Food safety education for producers
    • 23. 6. Increased commitment to buying local Table 1. Sales of locally grown foods by producers in August 2008- June 09. # Reports Local food sales Total sales 2007 1 52,620.00 52,620.00 2008 Previous 1 54,919.00 $67,719.00 New 2 12,800.00 2009 Previous 3 149,605.77 $638,600.46 New 10 488,944.69
    • 24. 6. Increased commitment to buying local Increased purchases by institutions from local producers in 2008-09. # Institutions Local food purchases Total purchases 2007 2 $94,021.00 $94,021.00 2008 Previous 3 $313,169.67 $320,669.67 New 3 $19,244.00 2009 Previous 3 $507,207.31 $544,659.53 New 12 $37,452.22
    • 25. 7. Leverage funding and expertise
      • Producer mini-grants
      Year # Grants Mini-Grant Amt $ Leveraged 2010 ? $12,000.00 ? 2009 12 3,262.50 49,792.00 2008 20 5,995.00 108,242.23 2007 14 2,940.00 134,723.60
    • 26. 7. Leverage funding and expertise
      • Leopold Center & partners
      • WK Kellogg Foundation
      • Iowa Department of Agriculture
      • Community Vitality Center
      • Iowa Farm Bureau
      • Iowa Women in Agriculture
      • NE IA Business Network
      Since 2006: $65,190 $500,000 Mini Grant match Total = $969,583 (Oct 2009)
    • 27.
      • POLICIES:
      • State fruit and vegetable policy for institutions
      • Iowa Cattlemen's Association adopt new policy to support local markets
      • Working with schools on procurement of local foods
      Policy & System Change Will Drive Our Work
    • 28. Scaling Up: Meeting the Demand for Local Food
      • Product quality and consistency
      • Seasonality
      • Matching supply and demand
      • Food origins and product differentiation
      • Supply chain infrastructure
      • Capital
      • Capacity Development
      • Information flow and transparency
    • 29. www.iowafoodandfitness.org Investing in the future of Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard & Winneshiek Counties Working Together

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