Sustaining Communities With Local Food: A Survey of Potential in Mississippi

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2015: $35,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Southern
State: Mississippi
Principal Investigator:
Shelly Johnstone
Mississippi Food Policy Council
Nancy Woodruff
Mississippi Food Policy Council


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: consumer demand for sustainable practices
  • Farm Business Management: economic development for local food systems and small farm development
  • Natural Resources/Environment: other
  • Pest Management: consumer demand for sustainable practices
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: consumer demand for nutrient dense foods grown sustainably
  • Sustainable Communities: community planning, local and regional food systems, partnerships, public policy

    Proposal abstract:

    Project collaborators propose to assess the potential of local and regional food systems as economic development strategy in Mississippi by surveying the state’s development community.

    Mississippi, like many states in the Southern SARE region, has a need to address health and economic issues and to find sound development strategies for its rural communities. With demand for fresh and local foods rising, local food production offers an attractive option.

    But what does the state’s economic development community know about revenue lost to out-sourcing of the state’s food supply, about rising consumer demand for fresh and local, about the unique ability of small and moderate scale food producers to meet this rising consumer demand, and about the infrastructure and policy barriers that they face?

    The project will also note the rise in consumer concerns about nutrient density and toxicity and suggest that such food quality factors play an important role in the future demand for local foods, in solving chronic disease challenges, and in the interplay between local and regional food systems and sustainable practices.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. To understand what developers know and want to know about LRFS in Mississippi. What do developers in Mississippi know about revenue lost and economic potential in the state's food system?  Their knowledge about local food systems, sustainable agriculture and consumer demand are important information for food system stakeholders; their feedback and questions help describe the development climate in which building LRFS and sustainable communities will occur.
    2. To describe Mississippi's potential for developing LRFS as economic development. This is an internal assessment made by collaborators based on the data compiled in the first objective.  It seeks to identify what information and data are important to developers as they consider LRFS as economic strategy.
    3. To define and describe consumer demand for local foods and for quality foods. Rising demand for locally grown food is important to the economic value of LRFS and serves as an indicator of success in development strategy.  Consumer demand for quality foods is important to describe and add to the discussion of how LRFS impact sustainable agriculture.  Consumer demand is not an aspect of quantitative research in this project, but is being introduced as informative to the understanding of LRFS and their impact on sustainable agriculture.
    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.