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Buying local added $9M to Iowa’s economy, report shows

In 2012, Iowa restaurants, colleges, nursing homes, and other institutions purchased local food to the tune of almost $9 million dollars. The report was released in November 2013 by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. The results were reported November 14th, 2013 in the Des Moines Register by staff reporter Donnelle Eller.
According to the Leopold Center the findings are part of the Regional Food Systems Working Group that supports local food systems in 90 or Iowa’s 99 counties. The Center reported that it is, “the first coordinated, comprehensive attempt to measure actual economic and community impacts associated with regional food system development in Iowa.”
Nearly 180 businesses and individuals participated in the data collection effort, including 74 buyers and 103 producers of local foods, reported Eller.
Corry Bregendahl, project lead for the Center said, “Most people think local food sales are only between farmers and individual consumers such as farmer markets or community supported agriculture enterprises.” Bregendahl stated that, “we also measured sales to institutions, such as hospitals and nursing homes, and schools, grocery stores and restaurants. These markets represent huge potential markets for local foods and serve a population that needs greater access to healthy food.”
The results of the report showed:
1. 74 buyers reported purchasing $8,934,126 dollars worth of local food.
2. 103 farmers reported $10,549,296 dollars in local food sales.
3. 36 new jobs (24 full-time equivalents) were created by both farmers and buyers.
4. Eight regional food groups leveraged $766,020 dollars funding.
5. On average, the 74 buyers spent $120,700 dollars on local foods, or about 8.7 percent of their total food budgets.
Bregendahl stated that, if local food purchases increased to 30 percent of their food budgets, an additional $21.5 million dollars in sales would be generated.
The Center reported that half of 1 percent of the estimated 22,000 institution and intermediary markets in Iowa participated in the report.
These findings are just the tip of the iceberg! Hopefully the report for 2013 will show a significant jump in sales and new jobs in the local food markets.