The Regional Food Systems Task Force
Led by KRC executive director Dan Nagengast, the Regional Food Systems Task Force was charged with the responsibility to identify ways to assist regional farmers and food producers in the production and marketing of food for regional consumers. Working with producer groups, farmers’ market organizations, consumer groups, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and the Kansas Department of Commerce, this task force promoted and assisted in the development of a thriving regional food economy.
Our food and fiber system has developed over many years. Increasingly, food is no longer grown, processed or consumed in the same region. Formerly, much of the economy in a rural state such as Kansas, was focused on food production, which fed us first, and provided us with good livelihoods as we sold the excess. As the system has developed, we have increasingly become a provider of raw agricultural products, (often sold at below the cost of production), to industries and owners elsewhere. The bulk of the profits from these products leave the state, while the risks of growing them, the waste from their production, and the depletion of our resource base remain our problems.
That said, many hurdles stand in the way of revitalizing the local and regional food economy. A Food Policy Council addresses this issue by first of all surveying production, processing, and marketing resources already in existence. This process also helps to identify stakeholders and uncover state and federal policies in need of review if we seek to encourage such a food and fiber system. Secondly, the Food Policy Council works with stakeholders and governmental agencies and regulators to implement new policies that will encourage more local farmers, food processors and food retailers.
Finally, the Food Policy Council works to develop new marketing channels, food chains, and other infrastructure needed to realize a truly regional food system that is integrated into existing food supply networks. The goal is an enhanced local food economy, decreased risk to the grower, and environmentally sound systems which recycle wastes back into production.
Stakeholders/Task Force members included direct marketing farmers; farmers market representatives; retailers, wholesalers and distributors interested in purveying local foods, the Dept of Agriculture staff who develop rules and regulations; the Agricultural Products people from Kansas Dept. of Commerce; KSU and Extension Researchers; interested agricultural groups; and consumer organizations.
Organized Five Direct Marketing Workshops held in Dodge City, Great Bend, Salina, Topeka
Proposed revision of the Food Inspection regulations to allow a “Domestic Kitchens” exemption
Proposed changes to the Kansas Egg Law
Participated in an on-going revision of the Kansas Dept. of Agriculture’s web site to more clearly communicate direct marketing regulations and laws
thirdyear of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and expansion of it, including proposalfor increased state funding
Proposedimplementation of the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, including proposalfor state funding
Completed a pilot project in Lawrence and Wichita to utilize wireless technology at farmers markets for Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) swipe cards used to provide benefits to low-income citizens.
Click here to see photos from the Wichita Farmers’ Market in August 2006
trainingsfor farmers market managers and vendors
KDHE organized farmers market near the capitol for state employees during the summer of 2006
Roll-out of the Bringing Freshness to Your Table promotional campaign for Kansas grown foods
On-going support of numerous projects impacting local food production including season extension in high tunnels, value-added processing, farmers market development, business planning for farmers, and training of new market growers.