With the recent and continued growth in the demand for locally grown food, questions emerge about market characteristics, the capacity of local food systems to support regional economic development, and the economic aspects of the production and consumption of local foods. What do we know about the economics of local and regional food systems? What is the status of research in this arena? 

Johns Hopkins University Center for Livable Future A research and education center with programs in food system policy, food communities, food production, and food system sustainability. Its Maryland Food System Map is a useful resource to Maryland-based applicants seeking information on existing infrastructure. The CLF’s Food Policy Network project “will support the development of effective and robust food policy at the state and local levels by working with existing food policy councils, national organizations and other interested groups.”

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. A network of more than 500 organizations in the Northeast, NESAWG provides opportunities for connecting with people throughout the Northeast and across sectors to share resources, identify gaps and partner on innovative projects. Workgroup activity ranges from sharing best practices to collaborating on more involved projects.

The USDA/ERS Food Environment Atlas assembles statistics on food environment indicators to stimulate research on the determinants of food choices and diet quality, and provides a spatial overview of a community's ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so.

The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems engages the people of Michigan, the United States and the world in developing regionally integrated, sustainable food systems.

The Leopold Center for sustainable agriculture is a research and education center on the campus of Iowa State that is focused in these initiatives - ecological systems research, marketing and food systems research, policy research and cross-cutting research that bridges all areas (water, energy, soil and alternative farming systems).

The eXtension Community of Practice in Community, Local and Regional Food Systems creates new research-based content related to community, local, and regional food systems; compiles and summarizes information published by its member organizations; and provides a unique, online meeting place for diverse groups and interests to share information and learn from one another.

The Sustainable Agricultural Research Network is a federally funded program that supports grants and education to support innovation in sustainable  agriculture and produces educational resources based on the outcomes of the research it funds. Especially useful to FMLPP applicants is the SARE topic room on local and regional food systems.

Centers and Institutes

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Building a successful meat processing business is far from easy. The feasibility studies detail many of the complications, challenges, and costs (sometimes in great financial detail).

Recently released "Framework for Assessing Effects of Food Systems" by the National Academies Press. More information

This paper by Pirog and O'Hara - provides a great summary on what we know about the economic impacts of local food systems 

MarketMaker largely is a not-for-profit, public forum that gives buyers, sellers, and consumers access to information about goods, services, and market needs.

The Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development has a number of resources related to local and regional food system development, including a signature grant entitled Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast through Regional Food Systems development