USDA’s main program on local and regional food system research and development, Marketing Service Division (MSD) features a dozen research and technical assistance specialists on local/regional food supply chains, including agricultural marketing specialists, economists, and a staff architect.
The program produces research and develops tools related to understanding direct farm marketing trends, practices, business models and economic impact. It also provides direct technical assistance to small- and mid-scale agricultural producers, handlers, distributors and extension educators that work with these populations.
Current activities and interest areas include:
- Design services for permanent food market facilities
- Local food market trends and emerging business practices
- Strategies for improving market performance
- Local food directories for farmers markets, CSAs, food hubs and on-farm markets
- National survey of farmers market managers
- Regional and community-level local food systems planning and economic impact analysis
- Commercial urban agriculture business models and marketing strategies
- Expanding marketing scope through aggregation, wholesale distribution and business incubation