Sales by farmers direct to consumers through farmers’ markets, farm stands, community supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions and other means have become an increasingly important source of revenue for new and small farms and ranches. In Oregon, in 2012, nearly 6,700 farms and ranches reported over $44 million in sales direct to consumers.
With increasing consumer demand for locally and regionally sourced food, that food is also now coming to market through “intermediated channels” and appearing on grocery store shelves, on restaurant menus, in school lunches, and in university and hospital food service.
Scaling local food is a challenge. The USDA reports that 85% of farms marketing local foods are quite small (revenue <$75,000 a year) and account for only 13% of local food sales. In contrast the 5% of local food farms with revenues above $350,000 account for two-thirds of all sales.
The OCFSN Wholesale Market Development Working Group is interested in seeing small local farms grow so they can develop profitable relationships with distributors, and in aggregating supply to meet the needs of larger retail and institutional buyers. The group is exploring tools and resources to help small farmers with business management and market development challenges, networking sellers and buyers, assessing needs for physical food hubs to aggregate, process, and store products, and developing strategies for distinguishing and maximizing the value of local foods.
Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council
Gorge Grown Food Network
North Coast Food Web
Oregon Farmers’ Markets Association
Oregon Food Bank
Oregon Rural Action
OSU Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems
Rogue Valley Farm to School
Rural Development Initiatives
Willamette Farm and Food Coalition