The United States Department of Agriculture has identified local foods as an emerging trend that has potential to benefit communities through economic, environmental and social impact. The USDA Economic Research Service supports this trend.
"Growth in local foods is expected to generate public benefits that are currently lacking in the food marketing system. Examining the costs, benefits, and unintended consequences of local food markets can provide input into effective design of programs that involve local foods. It can also identify situations in which adopting local food characteristics is a cost-effective tool for accomplishing policy goals." [view full post]
These potential benefits of local food systems expansion led Bould Development to pursue this study, with the objective of building an evidence-based foundation for local food system development in Casper, Wyoming. In particular, the study sought to understand wholesale demand in Casper, WY and assess the potential impact and viability of a food hub. A successful food hub operating in Casper would lead to increased access to fresh, locally grown produce and a culture of health conscious, local eating. In addition, a food hub would support economic development in the form of increased market opportunities for producers, improved food system sustainability, job creation, expanded access to healthy food, and improved infrastructure to support local food production, processing and distribution. This type of local food system planning and development helps prepare regions for investment in both upstream and downstream opportunities in the local food supply chain. Food hub and broader food systems development work promotes diversification of the local economy and enables targeted investment to support new local food businesses.
The focus of this study was to understand the production, wholesale demand, and existing infrastructure for local food in Casper, WY. While the study was predominantly centered on the city of Casper, producers, buyers and food systems stakeholders across the state were engaged.