Farm Credit’s commitment to young, beginning and small (YBS) farmers involved in all types of agriculture was on full display at the 2018 National Good Food Network (NGFN) Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. on March 27, 2018 – March 30, 2018. The event brought together farmers (many of them YBS farmers), food hub operators, funders and community leaders around the business of food hubs, which is the wholesale aggregation and distribution of local foods.
This growing, national marketing channel focuses on making fresh, local food accessible to a broader audience while supporting local farmers and keeping money in rural communities. A break from the traditional approach to food marketing and distribution, food hubs had been in need of more data to give growers and food hub managers insights about how best to organize, price and operate.
To help meet that need, Farm Credit joined with the Wallace Center at Winrock International in 2015 to fund and develop the Counting Values: Food Hub Financial Benchmarking Study. This report combined financial and operational data from 48 regional food hubs across the nation to provide standards for the industry. The first-hand experiences and best practices shared helped food hub managers improve operational efficiency and scale up their businesses.
Building on the success of the 2015 report, Farm Credit and the Wallace Center have partnered again for the 2018 Food Hub Benchmarking Study and invite food hubs to securely share their financial and operational data.
“This comparative data is intended for food hub management,” says Counting Values’ lead author Erin Pirro, a farm business consultant with Farm Credit East. “It can also be useful to farmers and food producers as well as lenders, investors and grant makers. All need to understand where the risks are for each stage in the value chain and for the sector as a whole.”
“Food hub managers are hungry for benchmarks,” said Gary Matteson, Vice President of Young, Beginning, and Small Farmer Programs and Outreach at the Farm Credit Council. “Farm Credit is using its business expertise to gather data, publish benchmarks and deliver operational analysis for food hubs with the ultimate goal being to provide additional marketing opportunities for more farmers.”