Next Steps for Transportation and Logistics Breakout Group

Transportation and Distribution Logistics

Compared to some of the other topic groups, this group is at relatively early stages of thinking, planning and doing. People in the region have been working independently, but are increasingly ready to organize. This part of the food supply chain offers opportunity to grow and diversify the local economy much like other parts of the chain, but the way forward is less clear than it is with bricks-and-mortar projects. There is a strong interest in maintaining a vision of sustainability in the development of new systems. SE MN is actively engaged in this work and could potentially provide leadership as critical mass develops.

Next steps:

  • Who in the region can provide leadership for this work? What is necessary for them to build capacity to take on that leadership? Where do we find that support?
  • What is the most appropriate scale to work with? Local, county, multi-county, state, etc.?
  • Where could the region find industry expertise, if only to understand what questions yet need to be answered in thinking about distribution and logistics?
  • How do we build awareness with farmers about the role that this part of the food supply chain plays and the associated costs / savings of working in moving beyond direct marketing into a wholesale model?

We would like to encourage your participation in continuing conversations. Please step forward by posting a comment below or by emailing us.  If you have suggestions on how we can proceed please don’t hesitate to share them.

4 thoughts on “Next Steps for Transportation and Logistics Breakout Group

  1. Caroline van Schaik

    When i left this group (mama duties called), we were drawing out a system of pods that tried to reflect both long hauls between major destinations and more localized milk routes which might stand alone and/or serve the long haul goals of full(er) trucks serving big AND SMALL scale farmers. I do not characterise this as being just about going wholesale, and I am firmly committed to the vertical (local) needs as much as the need for 1 box or a pallet’s worth heading to a major destination. I like the idea of a network or hub; they may work independently or together if it serves each party; the infrastructure would be VERY unfancy; and at this juncture, I advocate sticking to one mission – moving product – not buying and selling, not owning it, just moving it, for a fee, for anyone who can get to a hub at the appointed hour and is able to pay a site fee (that includes some sort warm body to oversee boxes at designated times) and a hauling fee. In the meantime, I am working with several partners – I am in SE MN – to put together 2 fundamental activities: a little hands-on workshop to make the case for paying someone ELSE to haul, and a worksheet to help each farmer decide that case for her/himself. This is unfunded work and it keeps getting shunted hither and yon; the need, however, is here, always here. I am perfectly willing to consider coordinating with existing haulers but I am rabidly committed to making room for the one bag of herbs as for anything else. I see this as a business waiting to happen; schools and hospitals are quietly coming on board, restaurants and stores by the day, and contrary to conventional thought, there really are people who want to farm if only the infrastructure (OK, and a few other things) were in place. As to leadership – well, this is sort of scary stuff and besides, it keeps slipping off the list of things to do for lack of funding/labor. I’m working up steam and welcome conversations to spur me/us on! caroline at LSP, Lewiston, MN

  2. Michelle Miller

    Caroline, thanks for the great comments on this topic. Would you be willing to lead a conference call on the topic? We can help with logistics on this end. I want to be on the call and think our CFIRE partners might be really interested, too. If you are game, let us know a preferred date / time and we will get the word out.

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