Farmer Conversations 2022

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $89,912.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Lindsey Scalera
Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems
This work was funded through a North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program grant. The proposal submitted included the following component: 'A farmer discussion group with 6-8 North Central state farmers to share what priorities will be most impactful for their businesses and communities over the next 5-10 years.' Though farmers were not identified as the primary audience for the community of practice, the discussion group was developed in recognition of farmers as the essential foundation of any state food system. The final version of farmer input was structured around five distinct 1:1 conversations with farmers, plus information gathered in Michigan and Iowa via statewide planning processes that included farmer perspectives. This change was due to timing - both seasonal time commitments for growers, and the grant timeline. Farmers interviewed were asked their thoughts on policies they feel affect their work and what priorities would be most beneficial in a statewide food system plan. While some responses were highly dependent on the type and location of the business, some takeaways included calls for food systems plans to grow local/regional food value chains through better distribution models, addressing infrastructure and equipment needs, and fostering greater direct and wholesale marketing relationships between growers and purchasers. Farmers also cited a challenging political atmosphere that requires as an antidote a more unified and coordinated grower voice across urban and rural divides.
Conference/Presentation Material
Sarah Baranskas
Target audiences:
Farmers/Ranchers; Educators; Researchers
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.