Marketing Tools to Conduct a Workshop by xgb18896


More Info
									           Leopold Center
Marketing and Food Systems Initiative

         November 6, 2006

     Gateway Conference Center
The Marketing and Food Systems Initiative will:

   •   Research and test new marketing strategies and business structures that allow Iowa’s
       farmers to retain more of the value for food, fiber, or energy produced with high
       standards of stewardship that protect Iowa’s water resources.
   •   Support education, conduct research, and facilitate partnerships to increase investment
       and support of local and regional food, fiber, and energy enterprises that protect Iowa’s
       water resources and provide significant economic benefits to Iowa farmers and rural
   •   Conduct research and education to address challenges that impede farmers and farmer
       networks from being equal partners with other players in food, fiber, or energy-based
       value chains. (A value chain is a network of businesses cooperating to satisfy market
       demands for a particular product.)

For more information about the
Leopold Center’s Marketing and Food Systems Initiative
Please contact:

Rich Pirog
Marketing and Food Systems Program Leader
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
209 Curtiss Hall – ISU
Ames, Iowa 50011
                                 Project Abstracts
              Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
            Marketing and Food Systems Initiative Workshop
                          November 6, 2006

                                 Table of Contents

Value Chain Partnerships for Sustainable Agriculture……………………………………                        3

Consumer Market Research……………………………………………………………….                                         6

Addressing Challenges - selling to direct, retail, and institutional food markets………….    8

Natural and Organic Meat Production and Quality Management…………………………                     10

Tools to Help Farmers Succeed in Niche Markets………………………………………..                          13

Linking Community-Based Food Systems with Health and Economic Development........        15

Economic Impacts and Implications of Local/Regional Food, Fiber, and Energy Enterprises.. 17

Place-Based Foods and New Food Entrepreneurs………………………………………...                           19

Community Supported and Local Food Enterprises………………………………………                            21

Business Planning Programs for Entrepreneurs and Farmers……………………………..                    23
Value Chain Partnerships for a Sustainable Agriculture

Pork Niche Market Working Group and Niche Pork Herd Health and
Production Cost Management project
Developing an integrated research and outreach program for niche pork production
This project aims to facilitate the Pork Niche Market Working Group (PNMWG) and
secure the involvement from individuals and groups to develop, fund, and deliver a niche pork
production research and outreach project. Key partners are Practical Farmers of Iowa, Leopold
Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Pork Industry Center, ISU College of Veterinary
Medicine, ISU College of Agriculture, ISU Extension, University of Nebraska Department of
Animal Science, Iowa Farm Business Association, Niman Ranch, Eden Natural, and Organic

This project focused on two areas of work. One was to facilitate the Pork Niche Market Working
Group (PNMWG), which is now in its sixth year of operation. The group has met 19 times and
secured $1,132,986 for projects and operations. PNMWG is part of the Value Chain Partnerships
for a Sustainable Agriculture (VCPSA) project. The second area was to develop and implement
an integrated research and outreach project for niche pork production. A proposal was written to
the USDA National Research Initiative program, and a $400,000 grant was awarded to the Iowa
Pork Industry Center for the project. Ninety-two farms from eight different states are currently
enrolled in the project.

Gary Huber
Practical Farmers of Iowa

Flax Working Group
It had been more than 50 years since flax was grown commercially in Iowa, but that changed in
2005. The Flax Working Group (FWG) coalesced with the construction of a new flax oil
crushing facility in Cherokee, Iowa, and the opportunity for farmers to market organic flax in the
state. This group’s goal is to facilitate growth and development of value chains for flax. Lessons
from the Flax Working Group have potential for application to other specialty crops in Iowa.

Group participants include Iowa farmers, a flax processor (BIOWA/American Natural Soy), a
flax buyer (Spectrum Organics, Inc), organic feed companies, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa
State University Extension and the Leopold Center. The FWG is the newest of four working
groups operating with the Value Chain Partnerships for a Sustainable Agriculture (VCPSA)

FWG activities include:
  • Coordination of research and demonstration efforts to develop and improve flax
     production practices in Iowa;
   •   Farmer outreach and education programs about flax production and to introduce farmers
       to representatives from Spectrum Organics;
   •   Facilitation of relationships among Spectrum, BIOWA and Iowa farmers, including
       review and recommendations for improvement to contracts and communication processes
       with farmers; and
   •   Convening of all parties to share plans and expectations for each year and to build trust
       and cooperation.

Margaret Smith
Value Added Agriculture Program, Iowa State University Extension

Ronda Driskill
Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa State University Extension

Regional Food Systems Working Group
The Regional Food Systems Working Group (RFSWG) is one of four working groups initiated
through the Value Chain Partnerships for a Sustainable Agriculture project. Formed in fall 2003,
the group has met quarterly, attracting more than 110 people representing more than 25 Iowa and
Minnesota organizations and businesses. RFSWG conducts research, supports education, and
facilitates partnerships to increase investment and support of community-based, economically
sustainable, and environmentally and socially responsible regional food enterprises. For more
information, go to
From 2004 through 2005, RFSWG funded 13 different projects ranging from consumer research
on regional food systems to economic impacts of increased production and consumption of fruits
and vegetables. In 2006 the RFSWG has developed a new set of objectives as part of its
evolution. RFSWG will:
       Identify the key elements found in specific geographic areas that create a vibrant and
       sustainable regional food system,
       Work with leaders and food businesses in specific geographic areas and/or communities
       to identify and support the key elements that are not yet well developed,
       Help identify and measure key indicators that determine whether there is positive change
       in the regional food system as a result of projects or programs, and
       Develop and implement a process for continuous learning across Iowa about what it takes
       to make a regional food system more vibrant and sustainable.

Rich Pirog
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition
In April 2006, the Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition, formed by key community
stakeholders, began implementation of a new strategic plan for their region, designed to build a
stronger local food and farm economy in northeast Iowa. With the financial and technical
support of the Regional Food Systems Working Group Assistance Plan, the Northeast Iowa Food
and Farm Coalition will gather data to address the identified needs for this project. A variety of
assessments will be completed through winter 2006, and by spring 2007 results will be presented
to various stakeholders (future investors, grantors, supervisors, lenders, and consumers) in an
effort to increase financial investment for the development and/or expansion of identified
potential food and fiber enterprises. The results also will be shared with producers, processors,
and distributors in the region to help them identify potential food and fiber markets.

Key partners for this initiative include: the Regional Food Systems Working Group; Northeast
Iowa Food and Farm Coalition; local producers and ag lenders; ISU Extension for Allamakee,
Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek Counties; ISU Extension Farm Management
Specialist; Northeast Iowa RC&D; Upper Exploreland Regional Planning; Allamakee, Clayton,
Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek County Economic Development Directors; Northeast Iowa
Community College Farm Bureau - Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard, Winneshiek Counties;
Iowa Farm Bureau and five county local Farm Bureau groups; Winneshiek County Cattleman;
GROWN Locally; Oneota Co-op; Corn & Soybean Growers’ Association; Dairy Promoters; and

Brenda Ranum
Iowa State University Extension, Winneshiek County

Eric Nordschow
Ag Producer & Windridge Implements, LLC

BioEconomy Working Group
The BioEconomy Working Group was launched in 2003 to investigate opportunities for the
sustainable production, processing, and merchandising of biobased products. It is one of the four
working groups of the Value Chain Partnership for a Sustainable Agriculture (VCPSA) project.
The working group has focused on a broad range of biobased opportunities, including natural
fibers (kenaf and switchgrass) for composites and mats, crop residue harvest and logistics, and
analyses of economic impact of local ownership of bioprocessing enterprises. Most recently, the
group financed a study conducted by David Swenson to investigate the economic impact of grain
ethanol production.
Jill Euken
Iowa State University Extension

Research on the near-term gains to regional economies from biofuels production has been
hampered to date by an absence of reliable data on the inputs and outputs of ethanol facilities and
the appropriateness of measurement techniques used to estimate regional economic impacts.
This research builds a baseline model of a 50 MGY ethanol plant in Iowa to determine the
expected regional economic increments that could be expected. Next, it simulates the change in
regional economic outcomes that would accrue were greater amounts of the profits paid to local
investors. The researcher then applied this modeling prototype to four ethanol plants in Iowa to
estimate the likely bump in regional impacts that were attributable to their respective amounts of
local ownership.

David Swenson
Economics, Iowa State University

Leopold Center Marketing and Food Systems Initiative – projects

Consumer market research
A study of the factors that influence consumer attitudes towards beef products using the
conjoint market analysis tool
A consumer study was conducted that examined the inter-relationship of traditional beef
characteristics and the characteristics of beef produced using methodologies of sustainable
agriculture to determine the utility and purchasing propensity that consumers have for the factors
associated with beef produced in a sustainable manner. The study included three rounds of data
collection. The first data collection effort focused on refining the factors to be analyzed in this
study and identifying the relative importance of respondent knowledge about steak. Student
respondents from two different Iowa State University academic programs -- the College of
Business and the College of Agriculture (i.e., animal science students) -- were asked to complete
the survey. Business students were expected to be relatively naïve about steak while students
from animal science were expected to be more knowledgeable about the relative importance of
steak features. The results from this segment of the analysis indicate that for business students
Region of Origin, Traceability, Cost of Cut, and the use of Growth Promoters were the most
important steak features. Alternatively, for animal science students the Region of Origin,
Animal Breed, Beef Quality, and Animal Feed were the most important factors. The results
indicate that the knowledge a consumer possesses about meat, animal characteristics, and similar
features related to steak products will influence attitudes about the features of steak products that
are considered to be important.
The second data collection effort represents the primary focus of the study, an examination of a
national sample of steak consumers. A total of 1,171 participants who were potential consumers
of steak completed the survey and provided useable data for the study. Because the results of the
primary data collection effort produced results that were intriguing yet controversial, a third
wave of data collection was undertaken to validate the results from the national sample. The
third data collection effort involved 211 students from the Business College who completed the
same survey completed by the national sample. The results from these two surveys were
consistent and show that Region of Origin, use of Growth Promoters, Cost of Cut, whether the
steak is Guaranteed Tender, and Traceability were considered the most important steak features
while Farm Ownership, Animal Feed used, Steak Cut, Animal Breed, and whether the product is
Certified Organic were the least important factors.

Brian Mennecke
Logistics Operations and Management Information Systems, Iowa State University

Anthony Townsend
Logistics Operations and Management Information Systems, Iowa State University

Assessing the market potential for goat meat among recent immigrants to Siouxland
U.S. demand for goat meat outstrips supply, immigrants favor it, and goats thrive in Iowa. Goats
produce high-quality meat, and over half of the red meat consumed worldwide is purported to be
goat. Project objectives were: to characterize demand for goat meat among recent immigrant
communities in Siouxland; uncover linkages among farmers, purveyors and consumers; and
identify barriers to increased processing and marketing. We used multiple research methods:
focus groups, surveys, and personal interviews. An advisory committee provided guidance.
Members included a goat farmer, a staff member of a private company working on a goat
browsing project, a Muslim consumer, a county extension director, directors of an RC&D, a
farmers’ market featuring local foods, and a Latina nonprofit organization. Two churches and a
mosque provided access to immigrants and volunteers who helped prepare or serve goat meat
meals featured at three focus group interviews.

We found a small, but growing, market that is highly segmented by specific consumer
preferences as to goat age, seasonal use, cut, and slaughter practices. We characterize it as a
demand/supply mismatch. On-farm purchasing satisfies some demand, but other consumers
prefer the convenience of purchasing fresh goat meat in local retail establishments. A “catch 22”
situation prevails: more would eat goat meat if it was more readily available, but grocers who
have stocked it report slow turnover and subsequent spoilage or expiration in the freezer.
Inexpensive imports from New Zealand and Australia further limit the ability of Iowa producers
to capitalize on emerging demand. The greatest barrier is cultural: most Anglo Iowans do not eat
goat meat.
Betty Wells
Sociology/Extension and Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University

Hannah Lewis
Sociology and Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University

Southwest Iowa Institutional Foods Survey and Producer Training Program
The institutional foods survey delivered in 2004 and completed in 2005 had a return rate of
nearly 30 percent, with 80 percent of the respondents indicating an interest in locally grown food
products. The products identified ran the gamut from fruit and vegetables to dairy and meat
choices. Institutions from 14 counties in southwest Iowa were surveyed, with the highest
concentration coming from those counties located in and around the Council Bluffs/Omaha
metropolitan area. The challenge of this survey then was to take locally grown product to the
institutional market. The 2006 efforts have centered on developing new partnerships that will
help to identify local growers and the type and quantity of products grown, and the branding,
packaging, distribution and potential processing of these foodstuffs.

Many of the partners in this project were working on various parts of the proposed initiatives as
described by the “original” Southwest Iowa Institutional Foods Survey and Producer Training
Program Leopold Center Grant (two years 2005/2006). Once this was discovered, a new
partnership was formed to develop a southwest Iowa regional food service working group that
would tackle each of the 2006 initiatives as described within the summary. Currently a database
of local producers in eight counties is being developed, distributors are being interviewed and
queried as to interest, and various farms to market e-commerce training and ordering sites are
being delivered, developed, or investigated. Actual producer training and defined institutional
interest will be developed during 2007 with distribution of local product to begin in 2007 as well.

Steve Adams
Iowa State University Extension, Community and Economic Development

Addressing challenges - selling to direct, retail, and institutional food markets
Bridging the gap: What does it take to bring small and medium-sized producers and retail
and food service distributors together?
This project was initiated to answer the question, “What does it take to bring small and medium-
sized producers and retail and food service distributors together?” Through interviews with 21
foodservice and retail food distributors, and a series of four workshops in March 2006,
information was shared with 80 producers about strategies to supply larger markets with locally
produced foods. Educational materials were developed for producers who wish to make contact
with retail and food service distributors. In addition, the first year of this two-year project
included sponsorship of a student summer internship in Sustainable Agriculture. Interviews
conducted by the intern provided insight into purchasing needs of selected institutional
customers; also, producers were offered assistance in registering for Market Maker Iowa, an
interactive mapping system that locates producers and markets of agricultural products in Iowa.

Connie Hardy
Value Added Agriculture Program, Iowa State University Extension

Analysis of transaction costs for small and midsize Iowa farmers
Objectives for the project were to: develop representative case studies to document transaction
costs of self-distributing food networks that produce and deliver to Iowa markets; develop
comparison data from which to identify strengths and weaknesses and target improvements; and
make recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the participating businesses.

Among the activities and preliminary findings, the investigators visited and discussed operating
issues with four of the six businesses; these include participants in fresh vegetable, dairy, and
niche pork markets. Preliminary drafts of the case studies were completed for each of the
businesses visited; a profile has been assembled of national average transaction costs incurred by
grocery, prepared food, and wholesale venues for comparison.

Clyde (Skip) Walter
Logistics Operations and Management Systems, Iowa State University

Randy Boeckenstedt
Center for Transportation Research and Education, Iowa State University

Craig Chase
Iowa State University Extension

Strategies to stabilize locally grown produce for year round sales: A feasibility study
One of the barriers to enlarging the locally grown market is the seasonality of the fresh grown
products. Locally grown products are available only during the months of peak ripeness and not
available during winter months. This feasibility study seeks to determine if on-farm, small-scale
stabilization of highly perishable foods is physically and economically possible. The objectives
for the project are:
        1) Determine the willingness-to-pay for year-round availability of locally grown
       2) Determine the types of food processing unit operations that would be amenable to
          small scale,
       3) Determine the energy costs associated with unit processing of each selected
       4) Determine the placement of pathogen reduction technologies within the operation,
       5) Develop plans and determine resources for construction of pilot unit.

The expert panel of food scientists and engineers determined that the unit operations most
amenable to small-scale processing are blanching/freezing units. Additionally, consumer
acceptance of frozen products is greater than that for canned products. The specific processing
units that are required include a blanching unit, a spiral mechanical freezer (compressor), and
accessories for cleaning and washing product. The blanching step was determined to be the
pathogen reduction step most amenable to this process. Pathogens chosen for study were
Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp, and E. coli O157:H7. Times and temperatures for
blanching of specific vegetable products to achieve best product quality were determined. These
conditions were used for pathogen reduction. In all cases, at least a five-log reduction in
pathogen counts on artificially inoculated vegetables was observed through the lab blanching.

Willingness to pay for locally processed foods is being determined by interviewing of shoppers
at grocery stores in Ames, Fort Dodge and Des Moines. Research has shown that consumers are
willing to pay a small premium for a locally grown and processed food.

Sam Beattie
Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University

Lester Wilson
Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University

Aubrey Mendonca
Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University

Natural and organic meat production and quality management
Organic, natural, and grass-fed beef: Profitability and constraints to production in the
midwestern United States
Market opportunities are growing for organic, natural, and grass-fed beef in the United States.
Identifying and quantifying economic and technical constraints to producing for these specialty
markets are the first steps toward helping beef producers make informed, rational business
decisions relative to these niches.
Research has been conducted via telephone and the internet on organic, natural and grass-fed
beef production methods, companies producing for these specialty market streams, and prices for
wholesale and retail beef products. Surveys of beef producers have been mailed to 200
prospective participants to help understand the methods of and constraints to conversion to and
management of these specialty beef production streams.

A model was constructed (in Excel) that included production timing, feeding programs, costs of
production inputs and actual price offerings for these three production streams and organic grass-
fed beef. Conventional beef production is the most profitable system if market prices are paid
for inputs. Natural beef was the second most profitable, given the premiums assumed. The
natural niche is a rapidly growing beef market and there is greater market access than even two
years ago. If producers value their land and feedstuffs at less than market value, or do not have
access to a market that pays market premiums for inputs assumed in this analysis, then organic
grain- or grass-fed beef can be a viable option. There appears to be a profit opportunity for
organic grass- and grain-fed producers, but relatively few producers are going this route. Perhaps
the organic market is still immature and the price and price premium formation are not clear for
producers. Successful examples of conversion and market demand will help producers determine
if these niche markets are an appropriate enterprise for them.

John Lawrence
Iowa Beef Center-ISU

Margaret Smith
Value Added Agriculture Program, Iowa State University Extension

Functional Quality Management Systems for livestock producers
Specialized markets for meat based on attributes such as how the livestock are produced are
emerging. These could require farmers to document how they are raising animals. The National
Animal Identification System (NAIS) will provide the infrastructure to move this information
through the value chain. Age verification for beef to Japan is one immediate example. Farmers
producing for these rapidly evolving markets or the increasingly competitive commodity markets
must have a method to facilitate business decisions and document which practices were or were
not used. Quality management systems (QMS) are proven tools to systematically move farmers
toward their management, marketing, and stewardship goals.
Among the objectives for this project:
    • Sixty Iowa livestock farmers will be educated in QMS principles using practical learning
       materials and examples specific to their farm.
    • One year after the training workshops, 30 Iowa livestock producers will use QMS
       principles in daily operations, annual planning and business evaluation decisions.
    • Begin a culture of quality management and process control among Iowa livestock farmers
       measured by knowledge of terms and procedures quantified by before and after surveys
       of farmers.
Progress benchmarks for this project:
   • A template for identifying critical management decisions has been developed.
   • A tool for on-site Pork Quality Assurance assessments has been developed.
   • Discussions are underway with a niche market production company about how to
       incorporate functional quality systems into the farms of producers and into their
       management team.
   • Slowly beginning to recruit producers to participate in the program.

John Lawrence
Iowa Beef Center

John Mabry
Iowa Pork Industry Center

Mary Holz-Clause
Value Added Agriculture Program, Iowa State University Extension

A survey of commercially available broilers originating from organic, free range and
conventional production systems for cooked meat yields, meat composition and relative
This survey investigated qualitative and quantitative properties of meat from organic, free range
and conventional broilers as marketed to the general consumer. Fifteen broilers from four
suppliers of each type were purchased and immediately frozen. Broilers were evaluated for pH,
color, lipid oxidation, proximate composition, meat yields, fatty acid composition, cooked yield,
sensory attributes and monetary retail variation.

Ultimate pH (pHu) for organic breast meat was higher (P<0.05) when compared to free range
and conventional. Organic thigh meat pHu however was only higher (P<0.05) than the free range
potentially indicating a lower glycolytic potential. Raw organic breasts and thighs were lighter
and less yellow (P<0.05) in color when compared to free range and conventional. Raw free
range breast and thigh thiobarbituric acid (TBA) values were lower (P<0.05) when compared to
that of organic and conventional. Protein composition of raw organic and free range light and
dark meat was higher (P<0.05) compared to conventional. Similar to raw color values, cooked
color values for organic and free range breast, thighs and skin remained less (P<0.05) yellow
compared to conventional. Cooked organic breast and thigh protein content was higher (P<0.05)
when compared to conventional, consistent with raw basis comparisons. Conventional and free
range broilers yielded a higher (P<0.05) percentage of breast meat compared to organic. Free
range whole carcass cooked yields were similar to organic (P>0.05) but higher when compared
to conventional. Fatty acid analysis showed that organic breasts and thighs were lower (P<0.05)
in saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and higher (P<0.05) in polyunsaturated, omega-3
and omega-6 fatty acids when compared to free range and conventional. Additionally, organic
breasts and thighs yielded higher percentages of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. A trained
sensory panel of 10 people evaluated breasts and thighs for chicken aroma, tenderness,
chewiness, moistness and chicken flavor. Results from the trained sensory panel indicated that
conventional thighs were more tender (P<0.05) and less chewy (P<0.05) when compared to
thighs from free range and organic broilers. Other sensory parameters were not significantly
(P>0.05) different among attributes for breasts and thighs.

At the time of the study (spring 2006), the average retail prices for whole broiler chickens
(averaging all four brands per type) were $3.19, $2.78 and $1.29 per pound for organic, free
range and conventional whole broilers, respectively. It is important to note that this project is a
survey, not a comprehensive research project comparing poultry quality across different
production systems.

Ryan Husak
Animal Science, Iowa State University

Joe Sebranek
Animal Science, Iowa State University

Tools to help farmers succeed in niche markets
Using contracts to expand produce market opportunities
Empirical studies conducted by Strohbehn, Gregoire, et al., indicate foodservice operators are
more willing to purchase locally grown produce and other foods if an adequate supply and
quality can be guaranteed. This project aimed to demonstrate how marketing contracts could
help producers manage the risk of increasing production while assuring foodservice operators of
adequate supplies of quality produce.

Work in year two included presentations to producers and launching an online production cost
calculator. The calculator allows producers to compare current production expenses with
estimated expenses of production necessary to meet marketing agreement demands. Producers
can develop estimates by product and save comparisons for future review and revision.

Jason Ellis
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Catherine Strohbehn, presenter
Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management, Iowa State University

Market Maker Iowa
MarketMaker is a powerful web-based interactive marketing tool that provides a vital link in the
food chain between producers and wholesale and/or retail markets by using GIS mapping
technology overlaid with U.S. Census Data and NAICS business data. Combining these three
data sets with locally collected producer data has made it easy for producers to find new market
opportunities and food procurement agents to find producers at

MarketMaker users have the ability to:
      • Identify potential markets by demographic characteristics.
      • Access demographic profiles of targeted geographic area.
      • Locate other producers, processors, wholesalers and other entrepreneurs for co-
      • Create lists of potential marketing and supply chain links.
      • Conduct preliminary market research about their customers or suppliers.

MarketMaker programming has been completed and with more than 250 producers registered.
Recently, visitors to the site exceeded 23,000/month. Tremendous producer response to the site
now allows the project to be promoted to procurement agencies such as food wholesalers,
grocers and chefs. It was developed by the University of Illinois Extension Initiative for the
Development of Entrepreneurs in Agriculture (IDEA). Iowa was the first state to replicate the
program with funding assistance from ISUE-Value Added Agriculture Program, the Leopold
Center and Altria.

Ray Hansen
Value Added Agriculture Program, Iowa State University Extension

Niche market and traditional enterprise mix: Optimization and risk analysis
Agricultural operations are discovering the growing opportunities in “niche” or specialized
markets that supply differentiated commodities that meet the demands of specific consumer
preferences. Niche markets usually offer price premiums over the traditional market system.
However, additional production costs and risks are incurred to satisfy the niche market
commodity specifications. The goal of this project is to facilitate how the effects of niche
markets in a farm enterprise mix are analyzed. Building on an existing farm enterprise
optimization tool, a new program titled FARMOR-Niche is being developed to examine how
niche market enterprises can influence production risk, market risk, and overall farm
profitability. Specifically, the niche market enterprises of producing natural, grass-fed and
organic beef, organic crops and natural pork are being included. This program will be used as a
research and education tool by ISU Extension, the Beginning Farmers Center and producers with
an interest in niche markets.

Objectives for this project are to:
       • Develop a farm enterprise optimization and risk analysis computer program,
       • Utilize an existing enterprise optimization tool and research from previous studies to
           model and analyze the risks and profitability of niche enterprises.
       • Develop case studies exploring the addition of niche enterprises into a common
           agricultural operation.

Shane Ellis
Iowa Beef Center

Linking community-based food systems with health and economic
The economic impacts of increased fruit and vegetable production and
consumption in Iowa
Establishing a community-based food system requires comprehensive strategies to meet multiple
goals simultaneously. Communities not only strive to build a base of sustainable family farms
and more direct marketing and processing opportunities; but also to increase community access
to adequate and affordable food and influence dietary and behavior changes that result in
optimized health and reduced risk of diet-related chronic diseases.

How can Iowa establish community-based food systems that result in local economic growth
AND substantially reduce healthcare costs? The study addresses four scenarios, including a
“five-a-day” scenario in which Iowans ate the recommended five daily servings of fruits and
vegetables, and Iowa farmers supplied that produce three months of the year. (According to the
Iowa Department of Public Health, only 19.5 percent of Iowans eat five or more servings of
fruits and vegetables every day.)

The “five-a-day” scenario considered additional production of apples, carrots, spinach, squash
and tomatoes, half marketed directly by Iowa producers and half sold through existing retail
stores. The “five-a-day” scenario would sustain (either directly or indirectly) $331.2 million in
total economic output, $123.3 million in total labor income, and 4,484 total jobs in Iowa.
Compared with existing production, its net impact would be $302.4 million in total new
industrial output, $112.6 million in labor income, and 4,094 jobs.

Rich Pirog
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Angie Tagtow, MS, RD, LD
Public Health Nutrition Consultant, Elkhart

Analysis of the Fruit and Vegetable Program in Iowa schools: What are the possibilities?
The Fruit and Vegetable Program was introduced as a pilot project in the 2002 Farm Bill to
address the growing obesity problem and the need for school-aged youth to consume a healthier
diet by providing free fruits and vegetables to students. Currently there are 25 schools, or
approximately 11,500 students, participating in the Fruit and Vegetable Program in Iowa. The
program aims to increase both the familiarity and preference of the K-12 student for fruits and
vegetables as well as the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed.

Researchers worked with the Leopold Center to analyze the agricultural impact of the Fruit and
Vegetable Program if Iowa youth increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables at school
by at least one cup per day. The analysis assumed the increases could be provided by Iowa
farmers and included one cup of apple, watermelon, cantaloupe, carrot, and tomato, and two cups
of spinach per week. Scenarios were run using the Iowa Produce Market Potential Calculator for
one to three months (the months when Iowa schools are in session and Iowa farmers could
produce the needed fruits and vegetables) with varying numbers of students (12,000 to 480,000)
receiving the fruits and vegetables. In nearly every scenario, there was a market deficit for the
required servings, farm revenue, and current acres in Iowa to produce the necessary servings.
For example, in order to provide four cups of Iowa-grown carrots for 60 days (three school
months) to 240,000 students, Iowa production needs to increase by more than 535,000 servings
to meet this demand. Supplying carrots for this scenario would bring nearly $15,000 in
additional farm revenue to Iowa farmers, assuming all existing Iowa-grown carrots would go to
supply this demand. Future analysis will include examining the economic impact (job creation)
of these scenarios in the Iowa economy.

Susan Roberts, W.K. Kellogg Food & Society Policy Fellows Program, Director
Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, Ankeny

Judith Levy
Drake University

Kory Beidler, presenter
Iowa State University

Rich Pirog, presenter
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Fitness Initiative – Northeast Iowa
A five-county region in Northeast Iowa has been invited to submit a W.K. Kellogg Foundation
grant proposal that represents potential $500,000 in planning costs and $3 million in
implementation costs flowing into the area. The proposal is for a multi-year project called “Food
and Fitness.” It aims to create a system of change to attack the root problems of children’s health
issues such as obesity, diabetes, poor nutrition and lack of safe play places.

Northeast Iowa was identified by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation because of the work already
begun by the Northeast Iowa Food and Farm (NIFF) Coalition which was formed earlier in
2006. NIFF is comprised of agricultural growers, bankers, market gardeners and orchard
growers, extension agents, retailers, independent meat processors, economic developers and
fundraisers. The coalition’s mission is to support the development and marketing of locally
grown agricultural products to enhance the lives of local citizens in the region. NIFF participates
in the RFSWG and the Center’s Marketing and Food Systems Initiative.

Northeast Iowa now has the opportunity to create a broader collaboration consisting of grassroots
groups, community-based organizations, and institutions representing not only the local food
system, but also physical activity constituencies, public health and health care, education,
economic development, transportation and rural and urban planning.

Brenda Ranum
Iowa State University Extension, Winneshiek County

Lora Friest
Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D)

Economic impacts and implications of local/regional food, fiber, and energy
Community economic impact assessment for a multi-county local food system in northeast
The investigators will develop case studies of at least 10 businesses, including detailed financial
data on labor, products, services, inputs purchases, etc. We will be able to show the extent to
which, for example, a dairy farm with an on-farm processing facility contributes economically to
the local community. Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center and David Swenson of
ISU’s economics department are collaborators in this study.

We have completed data collection from several businesses and will share some preliminary
results at this session. We have completed the data on the food and farm economy of the eight-
county area.

Kamyar Enshayan
University of Northern Iowa

Ken Meter
Crossroads Resource Center, Minneapolis

Economic impacts and implications of local/regional food, fiber, and energy enterprises
Local governments in Woodbury and, lately, Cherokee County, Iowa, have passed ordinances
that provide property tax breaks to farmers who convert to organic production. This research has
two important components: First, it compares the sum of economic linkages in a regional
economy of conventional farming practices with a set of recommended organic crop
alternatives. This analysis will allow for a declaration of the net increment to regional economic
activity that could be attributable to a shift from one form of production to another. Second, this
research will extend the economic outcome information into the area of local government
finances to determine if and when local governments are able to recover the value of their tax
breaks. The study county for this exercise is Woodbury. We will apply the modeled information
to actual Woodbury County production characteristics and to the actual structure of local
government accounts. That application will be a hypothetical situation that will demonstrate the
potential regional economic gains and the net fiscal outcomes. This presentation will display
only the economic impact differences between conventional and organic production scenarios.

David Swenson
Economics, Iowa State University

Investigation of the economic feasibility of pasture-based dairy operations in Northwest
Reports from northeast Iowa that pasture-based dairies are profitable enterprises and present a
lower-cost option for a young person entering the dairy industry helped raise this question: Are
pasture-based dairies economically feasible in northwest Iowa given agricultural practices and
land prices in the northwest region? To answer this question, we will collect cost of production
and production income numbers from 10 conventionally managed farms in northwest Iowa.
Using spreadsheet projection tools, we will apply pasture dairy budget information to the
northwest Iowa dairy farm management scenarios to determine if there are economically feasible
models for pasture-based dairies in northwest Iowa.

Chris Mondak
Iowa State University Extension, Sioux County

Tom Olsen
Iowa State University Extension, Buena Vista County

Place-based foods and new food entrepreneurs
Taste of Place, Phase II: Outreach
Following up on the 2005 Leopold Center-funded project, “Taste of Place: Place-based Foods in
Iowa,” the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is creating a linked series of pages on its website
( The web pages provide an introduction to the concept of place-
based foods, a proposed continuum of criteria for place-based foods, and descriptions or “fact
sheets” about several Iowa foods that fall into the continuum. Each fact sheet consists of the
“story” of the food and its producer(s), as well as information about how to obtain it from the
producer or retail/wholesale sources. Also included are photos of the production process and of
community and/or family events related to its production, which will scroll in a “slide show,”
audio interviews with the producer/s of particular foods, transcripts, and producer contact
information as well as downloadable PDFs of the fact sheets.

During 2005, the Iowa Foodways Project: Taste of Place surveyed the state to locate and
document a variety of foods and the people who produce them. The goal was and is to identify
those foods that can be distinguished as uniquely Iowan in heritage (whether historical, ethnic,
ecological, or geographic). That research, which continues, includes “stories” of those foods
grown and processed in Iowa that have an ecological/geographical niche, a heritage basis, and a
narrative that elucidates those connections to Iowa.

Rachelle H. Saltzman
Iowa Arts Council, Department of Cultural Affairs

Development of a regional wine culture in Iowa
This project has researched a geographically-based identity for grape and wine production in
eastern Iowa. Word done in cooperation with grape growers and wineries in eastern Iowa and has
resulted in the following:

    •   A submitted application describing a distinct geographical area for grape and wine
        production for an Approved Viticulture Area.
    •   The establishment of The Iowa Wine Trail wine trail to market the unique characteristics
        of the defined region.
    •   Completion of a study to examine profile, travel patterns and motivations of visitors to
        the wineries in Eastern Iowa communities, and also estimate the economic impact of
        wine visitors’ spending on the region.

Results of the Economic Impact Study showed:
   • The main motives for visiting the wineries were to: taste wine, enjoy the scenery, have a
       good time with friends and family, relax, support local wine producers, and taste locally
       produced foods.
   • Sixty percent of the visitors were on a day trip. The rest stayed on average 1.63 nights in
       the area, most often in hotels or bed and breakfast establishments.
   • Lodging was the highest spending category (M=$135.33), followed by buying wine at
       the winery (M=$72.07), restaurant and bar meals and drinks (M=$67.10), shopping
       (M=$60.08), admissions (M=$42.81), transportation/gas expenses (M=$42.72), and
       groceries (M=$28.99).
   • Initial wine visitors’ expenditures of $1.82 million generated $2.65 million in terms of
       sales, $1.35 million in terms of personal income, and created 53 new jobs.

The project will be completed under the direction of the Limestone Bluffs RC&D in partnership
with the Mississippi Valley Grape Growers Association, and the Sustainable Tourism and
Environment Program at the University of Northern Iowa.

Warren Johnson
Limestone Bluffs RC&D

Oksana Grybovich
Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program, University of Northern Iowa.

New food entrepreneurs: Value-added processing for farm profitability, facilitating
understanding between producers and policymakers
The New Food Entrepreneur's Project is a statewide education, research, and policy project
exploring ways to expand local food choices and enhance and Iowa's food culture. This project
seeks to build political and community support statewide for policies to help food entrepreneurs
and value-added enterprises profit from their products and practices, expand local food choices,
and educate consumers about the sources of locally grown foods.

Christine Pardee
Iowa Rural Development Council

Richard Graves
Wallace House Foundation

Community supported and local food enterprises
The role of cooperative Community Supported Agriculture – Lessons from Iowa
While many Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) enterprises are operated by single
proprietors and/or their families, others are the culmination of a group of producers working
together to offer a variety of locally grown (and value-added) products ranging from fruits and
vegetables to meats and bread. In 2005, the North Central Regional Center for Rural
Development in cooperation with the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture, conducted a
study of for-profit, multi-producer collaborative CSA (cCSA) in Iowa to identify the unique role
these enterprises play in community and economic development.

Study results show that cCSA serves as a business incubator for new growers and helps existing
growers expand and diversify their operations. In addition to practical, hands-on experience and
information that participation offers producers, it also provides valuable access to networks and
training to pursue off-farm sustainable agriculture careers. Benefits members receive as a result
of participation include assisting in community economic development, which members ranked
first, followed by benefits to the environment. Results also indicate that the more diverse benefits
members report receiving, the more likely they are to stay. One of the most challenging issues
Iowa cCSAs face is effectively managing producer-member relationships to ensure effective
communication. cCSAs are well positioned to harness citizens’ interest in accessing local
sources of healthy, fresh, safe, and delicious food, while at the same time capitalizing on their
eagerness to contribute to local community and economic development.

Corry Bregendahl
North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, Iowa State University

Assessing needs and fostering agricultural entrepreneurship among immigrants in several
Iowa communities
This project will develop a needs assessment survey tool, conduct a farming / gardening needs
assessment of recent immigrants, and convey findings back to the Denison community and other
communities throughout the state interested in supporting immigrant farming initiatives.

A survey tool was developed in both English and Spanish for use in personal interviews with
Latino, Laotian, and Sudanese individuals in the Denison community. Personal interviews will
be implemented to determine current or potential farming situations, obstacles experienced,
resources used and needed, and farming goals. A hard copy and CD-Rom report of the findings
will be presented to Denison and other Iowa communities.

Tanya Meyer-Dideriksen, presenter
USDA-NRCS, Williamsburg

Hannah Lewis
Sociology and Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University

Rick Tafoya
M & M Divide RC&D, Carroll

Economic viability of local food marketing for restaurant operations and
growers/producers in Iowa
The four objectives of this study are to 1) Determine the economic and non-economic costs and
benefits to restaurants for purchasing locally grown foods; 2) investigate whether locally
purchased food can be developed into a competitive advantage for restaurants through increased
market share and variable pricing strategies; 3) identify economic implications for local
growers/producers who wish to establish sustainable partnerships with local foodservice
operations; and 4) educate Iowa restaurateurs and local growers/producers about the factors
influencing the viability of buying and selling local foods.

The following activities have been completed during the second year of the study: mailing of the
chef/manager survey and conducting the remaining Choice experiment to achieve Objective 2.
As planned, the study also completed data collection to investigate economic implications for
local growers/producers who wish to establish sustainable partnerships with local foodservice
operations. Objective 4 relates to educating Iowa restaurateurs and local growers/producers about
the factors influencing the viability of buying and selling local foods. Results obtained from
analyzing data for objectives 1-3 will lead to the completion of this last objective.

Amit Sharma
The Pennsylvania State University

Catherine Strohbehn, presenter
Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management, Iowa State University
Business planning programs for entrepreneurs and farmers
Growing new farmers/entrepreneurs: Initiating incubator farm and kitchen enterprises
utilizing the Entrepreneurial and Diversified Agriculture Program, Continuing Education,
and the Marshalltown Community College Farm

The work done with this funding has been directed toward the planning for two critical
components of the Midwest Center for Entrepreneurial Agriculture (MCEA) located on the
campus of Marshalltown Community College. The MCEA will serve as a central location for
the promotion and demonstration of practices in sustainable agriculture, business start up as well
as facilities to initiate farms and value-added enterprises. The purpose of these plans is to guide
decision makers, gather community support, and provide visioning for college leaders.

A farm incubator, a kitchen incubator and a machine shop will function together to promote a
sustainable, diversified agriculture and in the production of value-added products. The work
completed on the farm plan, thus far, has generated a conservation plan, discussions with and
explorations of similar farms, insights into the needs of immigrant farmers, and mapping of key
features to the farm both presently and in the future. We are currently exploring staffing needs
and determining building needs.

The kitchen portion of the project has included a visit to a similar facility in Athens, Ohio;
surveys to potential users/stakeholders; as well as an exploration into the potential funding
required to build and maintain a kitchen-incubator facility for training and the production of
value added products.

Linda Barnes
Marshalltown Community College

Thomas Deimerly
Iowa Valley Continuing Education, Marshalltown

Sustainable Agriculture and Entrepreneurship Project
The Sustainable Agriculture and Entrepreneurship program is in its third year of existence. We
have fully developed curricula for all courses offered in the program, established a seminar series
offered yearly in the winter that highlights sustainable agriculture, established instructional plots
on the Centerville campus, and developed several partnerships within the community to better
serve our students as well as those in the surrounding area. We continue to see greater local
support for the program and have been fortunate to have many key partnerships that have greatly
increased the diversity of experiences gained by the students. Some of those involved include the
Iowa Department of Natural Resources at Honey Creek State Resort Park, Tom Wahl of Red
Fern Farm, Kevin Sebolt of McCormick Corporation, Sidles Top Crop, and Mike White of ISU
Extension. We have seen a steady increase in enrollment throughout the history of the program
and hope to continue our marketing efforts and recruitment to continue the program’s growth.

Joe Starcevich
Indian Hills Community College, Centerville

Brydon Kaster, presenter
Indian Hills Community College, Centerville
641.856.2143, ext. 2216

Vicki Brown
Indian Hills Community College, Centerville

Grow Your Small Market Farm™ (GYSMF) Business Planning Program
Between 1982 and 1997, the USDA Economic Research Service identified more than 5,000
small, part-time farm enterprises with limited sales and tracked them over time. In 1982, these
farms had less than $10,000/annually in sales but produced relatively high-value products,
generating at least $500 of sales per acre in 1997. By 1997, 644 of these farms had grown into
commercial operations with annual sales of $100,000 or more and 97 of them had over $500,000
in sales.

The GYSMF™ Program is for new or existing producers who wish to add a specialty or niche to
their farming operation; and who are seeking help in developing and writing their farm business
plan, practicing the skills learned in the program and receiving hands-on support for one year.
The program has been in operation since 2001; it has received Leopold Center support for the
past four years. A total of 113 businesses from across Iowa have participated in the program. The
program had three phases:
    • Phase I: January 21-April 15, 2006, attend class on Saturday for three hours to learn and
        write a personal business plan.
    • Phase II: During the summer through early fall, the instructor visits each farm to better
        understand the business and assist with a small project.
    • Phase III: The class returns for one final meeting in the fall to present their business

Penny Brown-Huber
Program Administrator

Sherry Shafer
Mid-Iowa Small Business Development Center

Marketing and Food Systems Initiative - Other Projects 2005-2006

Iowa (Hawkeye) Delicious Apples - Consumer Preference and Market Strategy for an Iowa
Place-based Apple Variety
Margaret Smith,
Value Added Agriculture Program, Iowa State University Extension

Northeast Iowa Survey of Household Consumer Food Purchasing Patterns
Brenda Ranum
Iowa State University Extension, Winneshiek County

2006 Evaluation of Leopold Center Marketing and Food Systems Initiative
Grant Program
Mari Kemis
Research Institute for Studies in Education, Iowa State University


For information on projects funded through the Value Chain Partnerships for a
Sustainable Agriculture (VCPSA), go to

To top