- Farm Business Management: marketing management
- Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems
This project seeks to investigate the transportation challenges faced by Texas farmers and ranchers and to design, develop, and pilot a transportation management tool that will help these farmers begin to build efficient, collaborative regional food transportation networks. Regional food systems offer the potential to greatly improve agricultural sustainability. However, in the face of increasing competition, regional farmers must find ways of expanding their market reach to a larger number of buyers to ensure the survival of their farms. Larger markets are typically located in urban centers that are geographically distant from farmers, and most small and mid-sized farmers do not have the necessary transportation infrastructure in place to support efficient distribution.
If successful, this project will strengthen the Texas regional food system by increasing the market reach of farmers, thereby increasing farm incomes and long-term financial resilience.
This project will follow a systems engineering approach, in which we will elicit the transportation requirements of a broad and inclusive set of regional food system stakeholders and then translate these requirements into the design and development of a transportation management tool (i.e., an app). This tool will facilitate connections between farmers and transportation providers to increase the capabilities of the Texas regional food distribution system. We define this system broadly, to include large-scale food logistics providers, small-scale transportation, and non-traditional partners, allowing for the flexibility and creativity that are necessary when working with a budget-constrained supply network with participants that are widely dispersed across a very large geographic region.
Project objectives from proposal:
To address these challenges, the objectives of this project are to:
- Provide an increased understanding of the transportation capabilities and needs of Texas farmers;
- Define and reach consensus on a set of regional food transportation system functions that are necessary to address existing shortcomings;
- Design a transportation management tool that will enable farmers to connect with one another and with regional transportation providers;
- Prototype and pilot the transportation management tool.