Blueberries. Image credit:NH Farmers Market Association.
University of New Hampshire researchers have analyzed the economic impact of their State's locally-produced food system. The good news: farm market sales - known as 'direct marketing' of food - accounts for 12 percent of New Hampshire's farm food sold, overall, compared to 0.5%, nationally. On the other hand, overall economic performance of the NH farm economy is relatively poor, according to a story reported in the Concord-Monitor, and elsewhere. "In 2007, only 30 percent of New Hampshire farms had positive net income, much lower than the U.S. average of 47 percent." Why such low economic performance? And, what are the opportunities for improvement?The authors point out that
New Hampshire farms are less likely to have contracts with stores or restaurants that would bring in more money.That's a big one.
University of New Hampshire's Food & Society Initiative (FAS) is positioned to help local farmers bring in the money. There is much ground to be gained:
The report also analyzed local food production as a percentage of total food demand and found that just 6 percent of New Hampshire's population could be supported by its current level of food production, compared to close to 40 percent in Maine and Vermont.The idea of looking at local food through the self-sufficiency lens is something that few American consumers have considered. Obviously, farmers in Maine, Vermont, and other states have learned to market food directly, at a relatively higher level, and in doing so have made their respective states more food self-sufficient.
Ironies abound in the subject of US food self sufficiency.
For example, according to a story in the The Oskaloosa Herald, the 'breadbasket' state of Iowa only produces 20% of food consumed there. (Probably would be much less if they didn't count Racoon Brew as a food.)
Change can come faster than you think.
Obviously, Gulf Coast states that once consumed a great deal of wild caught seafood will see a drop in food self-sufficiency in this and possibly in coming years due to the BP Gusher.
Increased food self sufficiency could possibly help society adapt to climate change and vice-versa. As to the latter possibility, word on the street is that old hippies, masquerading as 'greens,' have been experimenting with cultivation of Coffea arabica on Vermont's Green Mountain. Who knows where that could end up?