Idaho Small Farms
In Idaho, as in much of the Intermountain West, rural, low population densities and long transportation distances to urban markets present unique challenges for producers interested in selling their products direct or semi-direct to retail grocery stores and restaurants.
A multidisciplinary team of University of Idaho researchers and Extension educators were awarded a three-year (2014-2017), $500,000 grant to research and develop solutions to these challenges. The ultimate goal is to give Idaho’s small and medium-sized vegetable, fruit and livestock producers’ better access to local (within 100 miles) and regional (within 400 miles) retail and restaurant markets.
The links below provide more in-depth information on this project.
- Small Farms Project Summary
- Small Farms Handout, 11x17
- USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities funding program
For project updates and more information visit our Facebook page.
A project of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: Serving Local and Regional Markets in theIntermountain West: Identifying and Overcoming Constraints in a Vast Geography. Grant #2013-04787
- Josh Bevan, Director, UI Food Technology Center (Caldwell, Idaho) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Janie Burns, Chair, Treasure Valley Food Coalition; Owner, Meadowlark Farm; Vendor, Boise Farmers Market (Nampa, Idaho) email@example.com
- Leah Clark, Program Manager/Trade Specialist, Idaho Preferred (Boise, Idaho) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jerry Miller, Economic Development Specialist, Idaho Commerce (Boise, Idaho) email@example.com
- Julia Oxarango-Ingram, Director, Southern Idaho rural Development (Twin Falls, Idaho) firstname.lastname@example.org
- TJ Stevens, General Manager, Idaho’s Bounty (Boise, Idaho) email@example.com
To garner support and resources to further develop regional distribution systems, we will evaluate the economic impact of agricultural activities (production, aggregation, distribution and retail/restaurant purchases) on the state’s economy and the three sub-region’s economies. The results will include the actual sales, value added, wages, unemployment, jobs, income distribution and other measures of economic activity in each sector. We will also estimate the economic impacts of substituting regional consumption of locally-produced vegetable and livestock products for those produced out of region.
We will share the results of these economic impact analyses with producers, policy makers and agricultural agencies across Idaho to inform decision making that supports local agriculture.
The producer and buyer surveys will identify educational and other resource support that will help producers scale up, process food products and access distributors, food hubs and new markets.
We will use the data we collect to develop new extension resources and programs that will be offered in 2016 and 2017.
- Cinda Williams
- Ariel Agenbroad
- Colette DePhelps
The market assessment will provide information needed to develop a map of agricultural products available for sale to retailers and restaurants in three distinct regions of Idaho (north, southwest and southeast) and the location of retailers and restaurants interested in buying specific products. To gather this information, we will conduct an online producer survey (to determine production and supply) and an online retail and restaurant buyer’s survey (to determine market demand).
We will learn if more of the products restaurants and retailers purchase could be provided by local producers and identify the best strategies for marketing and selling local products to local buyers.
We will use the data from the producer survey and interviews with Idaho distributors to fine-tune existing data sets and build a model of current distribution options and practices of small and mid-sized producers selling to restaurants and retailers.
This information, combined with results of the market assessment, will be the basis for modeling to identify the optimal location of food aggregators (for example, warehouses and central hubs), routes for product delivery and volume of product sales needed to make these enterprise economically viable. The model will also identify opportunities to sell food among the three regions as a means to expand market access and extend the seasonal availability of regionally produced foods across Idaho.
- Shenghan Xu, College of Business and Economics
Survey and interview data will also be used to determine where more production of specific crops and livestock products is needed to meet the existing market demand, and how these products can be brought to market via existing and new food aggregation and distribution systems (for example, regional food hubs or using existing distributors and warehouses).
This information will help producers determine the optimal mix of vegetable and livestock products for local markets.
- Ray Dezzani, Department of Geography
- Tim Frazier
- Brendan Gordon, graduate student, Department of Geography
- University of Idaho Extension Small Farms and Sustainable Agriculture
- Idaho Preferred is a program to identify and promote food and agricultural products grown, raised or processed in Idaho
- Idaho’s Bounty Cooperative develops and promotes a local, sustainable food system for the communities of Southern Idaho that ensures safe, consistent, fresh, ethically produced and delivered products direct from local producers.
- Treasure Valley Food Coalition works with diverse community partners to improve the resiliency, integrity and economic vitality of the region's food system.
- Idaho Census of Agriculture: The U.S. Census of Agriculture is the leading source of facts and figures about American agriculture. Conducted every five years, the Census provides a detailed picture of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the United States. The 2012 Census of Agriculture collected information concerning all areas of farming and ranching operations, including production expenses, market value of products and operator characteristics.
- Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education fosters sustainability through grants that enable cutting-edge research and education to open windows on sustainability across the West.
- Outdoor Idaho: This episode of the Idaho PTV Outdoor Idaho program highlights opportunities and challenges in Idaho’s local food system.
- Assessment of Teton View Agriculture for Local and Regional Markets, 2015. Written by the Office of Grant and Project Development for the High Country Resource Conservation and Development Council