The role of regional food hubs in supporting small farmers in the USA

coperta-food-hub-okPolicy Brief 31, May 2014, Author: Alexandra Toderita.


Report: The role of regional food hub in supporting small farmers in the USA

All throughout the world, but especially in Western countries, such as the United States of America, improving market access for small farmers and strengthening their position in the food-chain has become one of the priorities of the agricultural public policies.

In the US, the basis of the American regional food systems is the food hub.

Food hubs are listed in American literature alongside incubators, mobile markets, urban agriculture, food banks, etc, as innovative instruments aimed at developing regional agri-food systems. They provide a solution for the lack of a) physical infrastructure problem (transport vehicles, processing units), b) services (they provide agricultural technical consultancy, marketing  consultancy (labelling, packaging), consultancy for start ups) and c) information (contacts) which limits the activity of small and medium farms, non-industrial.

Moreover, an essential element is that the American food hubs provide, in general, higher prices than those offered on the free market – around 70-80% of the sales income returns to the farmers, while the rest of 20-30% supports the activity of the food hub. The farmers are consulted, and the prices are established by taking into consideration their production costs.

The functions performed by the food hubs vary according to their size, geographical coverage, typology, but two of the functions are always performed: as a local food aggregator and as a selling point.

CRPE visited such logistic centres in New York and Pennsylvania as part of the “Romanian-American Foundation Food Study Tour”, and this report highlights the main characteristics of these entities. The reports presents Farm-to-table Co-Packers, Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, Common Market, Reading Terminal Market –examples that illustrate the most common US model of this type of entity – “farm to business/institution”.

This report is published under the program „Rural development through entrepreneurship and association”– initiated and financed by RAF and conducted in partnership with CIVITAS, FDSC, CMSC, CRPE and CEED.