AMES, Iowa — A new report from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture shows that institutional purchases of local food added nearly $9 million to the Iowa economy in 2012.
What’s more, the report points out enormous opportunities for local foods in Iowa that could benefit rural communities and farm-based businesses. Investigators measured significant sales from only a small segment of potential markets for local foods among grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, college and school food services and other institutions.
The findings are part of an evaluation of the Regional Food Systems Working Group (RFSWG) that supports local food systems in 90 of Iowa’s 99 counties. It is the first coordinated, comprehensive attempt to measure actual economic and community impacts associated with regional food system development in Iowa.
The coordinators distributed surveys to area buyers and farmers they worked with to collect information about these key indicators of economic impact:
· Local food purchases in 2012: 74 buyers reported total purchases of $8,934,126.
· Local food sales in 2012: 103 farmers reported total sales of $10,549,296;
· New jobs related to local food in 2012: A total 36 new jobs (24 full-time equivalent) were created in 2012 (reported by a subset of buyers and farmers).