Regional Food Freight

Update – Madison Food Terminal Progress

Well, as we all know COVID happened. The local team, as of November 2020, picked itself back up, brushed itself off, and are moving forward again. The ACDS Madison Terminal Market plan is now available. A small group of entrepreneurs are regularly meeting with DATCP and others to use the findings of the report — to improve market information flow, improve the physical movement of food, especially perishables, and improve logistics into the region. We are concerned for independent grocers and restaurants and the uphill battle they are waging to stay in business during this difficult time. The National Grocers Association put out a white paper on anti-trust in the grocery industry entitled “Buyer Power and Economic Discrimination in the Grocery Aisle: Kitchen Table Issues for American Consumers”.

Update – Madison Food Terminal Progress

Not to get too excited, but things are coming together as of January 2020! The local committee and consultants are meeting every week to discuss fast-breaking progress. In a nutshell, we have a great case to make about why such a facility will transform local and regional food systems in the Upper Midwest — we could immediately fill 11k pallet positions, it would save at least 160 trips to Chicago, etc.. We have businesses interested in renting space and are detailing what that space would look like, we have three potential sites, we have investors interested, and a public benefits statement that would form the basis for a B-Corp, or public benefit corporation. If you wanna piece of this, now is the time to speak up! We could potentially have a facility up and running by July!

National Academy of Science’s 99th Transportation Research Conference

This was quite the event. More than 13k people attended this five-day conference, with multiple presentations within ~ 400 sessions per day on every aspect of transportation. Conference attendees represent three broad categories of private- and public -sector professionals: transportation planners, transportation engineers, and DOT (state and federal). I did not meet anyone working specifically on food freight. Most people were working on moving people, not freight. The only committee (out of 179 committees) charged specifically with rural issues is the one on which I serve – the Agriculture and Food Transportation committee.

E-commerce is disrupting distribution, and this is affecting food distribution to some degree. Large, well-capitalized companies (Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart) are shifting to regional delivery outside urban centers for reasons that my research suggested in 2016. Our efforts to inform the installation of a regional food terminal that would support independent wholesalers are on target, ahead of the curve, with large retailers not far behind. Major metro centers are interested in, but have no research on shared locker systems that function like a buying club. Unlike lockers currently in use, they allow delivery from any supply chain, not just companies who own the lockers. Disruption to distribution infrastructure in big cities is driving redevelopment. New York City and Paris are repurposing strip malls, regional malls, big box stores, and inner city parking structures to accommodate e-commerce infrastructure needs.

There are plans afoot for a major conference on Transportation Equity,  June 2021 in Minneapolis. I expect to contribute to this conference by proposing panels on rural and urban food access issues, such as the need to support wholesale distribution infrastructure to serve these underserved communities – farmers and eaters.

I attended the session on decarbonizing transportation, featuring European and Scandinavian presenters on cutting edge policy and engineering to address climate change. The EU Green Deal is a light in the darkness, with aggressive goals starting in 2020. Norway is also making real commitments to change and is frank about what will be easy to change (electrify city buses) and what we don’t know how to do yet (decarbonize aviation).

Kick-off for the Food Terminal Pro Forma

We are excited to announce that consultants ACDS from Maryland were chosen to lead the next leg of our adventure to open up markets in the Circle City region. Phil Gottwals, principal at ACDS, will be in Madison April 8 to kick off efforts. His first charge is to assess food flow and business interest in a public food terminal. If your business is interested in meeting with Phil to discuss interest in the project, either as a tenant or a buyer, please contact Michelle Miller at CIAS. I can put you in touch.

City of Madison exploring regional cross dock for local food

You guys have the best ideas! From meetings eight years ago, we’ve continued to find ways to open up wholesale markets for food from the Driftless. We took another big step toward making that happen when a group of us spoke with Mayor Paul Soglin last April about the need for a wholesale cold storage cross dock. Allies within city government, Rebecca Kemble, Satya Conway, Lindsey Day Farnsworth and I met with him and were pleasantly surprised that he understood the need and helped us think through what it would take for the City of Madison to be a partner in realizing the idea. We spent the next months presenting our proposal to the City Council (see below), mocking up the idea and writing policy language. The result? The City of Madison pledged up to $100k to hire a consultant to write a business plan and impact statement for the facility! The City is reviewing proposals from consultants and hopes to select a consultant team before January 2019. Be ready everyone – you may be asked to pitch in and commit to making this business a reality. — November 1, 2018

For a quick summary of the report that led to this strategic development, see:

Proposal: The Circle City Wholesale Food Terminal – expanding regional food access and affordability


There is strong and growing support for local and regional food, but small farms selling at farmers markets alone aren’t enough to fix our food system. We need to scale up Wisconsin food production and connect these farmers with wholesale buyers by creating a space to do business.

A coalition of businesses, public and non-profit organizations agree that what is needed is a temperature controlled, wholesale food terminal that keeps fresh food cold so that more food may flow through our region. Such a facility improves transportation logistics and reduces costs, especially for small supply chains. This terminal is a physical location where trucks can easily pull up to docks to load and unload, and where food ownership can change hands conveniently and efficiently between producers (farmers, food processers and retailers) and buyers (processers, retailers, restaurants, distributors and institutions like schools and hospitals). Products in the terminal or “cross dock,” move through an inbound dock and are transferred across the dock to an outbound transportation dock. From the wholesale terminal, buyers move the product to where it will be processed or retailed.

Currently, most of the deliveries into the Madison region come through private supply chains. Most of the food we consume is from large businesses that don’t serve smaller wholesale farmers and processors well, if at all. For example, 20 years ago, Copps grocery chain was a Wisconsin family-run business with less than 20 stores. After a series of sales, these stores are now part of the Kroger chain, the second largest grocery company in the US. Farmers have a very difficult time selling into Kroger’s because Kroger buys at a scale too large for smaller wholesale farmers to fill. Profits from Kroger don’t stay in Wisconsin but accrue to their out-of-state owners.

Similarly, independently-owned groceries like Metcalf’s, Jenifer Street Market, Miller’s Grocery in Verona, the food coops, and independent restaurants frequently feature local food and Wisconsin products. Without a wholesale market in our region, these businesses absorb unnecessarily high overhead for these products, making them less competitive with the retails using larger supply chains. The lack of a wholesale market hurts existing local business, and limits the emergence of new businesses – new farmers, new grocers, new restaurants, all the food activity that makes our region unique.


A wholesale local-food terminal – with a public mission – creates a place to buy and sell wholesale for businesses at multiple scales. It can support existing businesses that depend on or prefer small food supply chains, such as supply chains for ethnic foods, food from smaller wholesale farms, and value-added products, such as grass-fed beef and dairy. Other cities see numerous benefits from public–private partnerships in wholesale food marketing, such as increased fresh food production closer to the city, more affordable food and more entrepreneurial, community-based grocery stores, artisan food processors and independent restaurants throughout the region.

Expanding wholesale businesses

The wholesale terminal is a logistical facility (not a storage facility) that serves buyers and sellers within about 200-mile radius of the terminal. More efficient logistics reduce transportation costs for both buyers and sellers. Food moved within this region – Circle City, a region of more than twenty million – would make up the bulk of trade at the facility. In our region, that would include Chicago and the Twin Cities. Farmers and processors in this region would need to collaborate to move food freight efficiently on 53’ trucks to the single point of sale.

Even more logistical efficiency would be created for businesses within fifty miles of the terminal. Farmers packing their product on-farm (including CSAs), and local entrepreneurs producing artisan-processed food (Something Special from Wisconsin products, for instance) could sell at the wholesale market and benefit from their proximity to market. Buyers of any scale within 50 miles would be able to access local and/or fresh product from the food terminal efficiently. Very small neighborhood groceries and restaurants could buy at the market to supplement their offerings and benefit from proximity, too.

Economic Impact

We estimate 630 additional jobs could be created as a result of the facility in the first five years. Based on analysis of other wholesale food terminals, we expect the site to support a minimum of:

  • 10 regional distribution businesses;
  • 100 farmer-shippers (including 40 CSA farms and 60 farms associated with first-mile food hubs – Fifth Season, WI Food Hub Coop and Organic Valley’s vegetable business); and
  • 100 wholesale buyers, the majority within 50 miles
  • a market manager and staff of 10;
  • 630 new jobs (three employees added per business served (210×3= 630) to accommodate food movement.

Once the facility is up and operating, we expect the facility will serve farmers and wholesale buyers well beyond Dane County and support regional food supply chains throughout the Upper Midwest and its 20+ million people. In comparison, the Ontario food terminal facility, the third largest in North America, serves about 16 million people and their businesses within a 200-mile radius from a 1,740,000sf building.


Madison should follow other great cities like Detroit, San Francisco, New York City and Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Syracuse that have invested in public wholesale food terminals. We look to the public sector to develop a working business plan and economic impact assessment, build an on-ramp for the project, and maintain a public mission for the terminal. We look to the private sector to estimate the volume of food that will move through the terminal, and for their commitment to lease the space, use the docks, and buy and sell through the facility. —5/17/18

Michelle Miller, Lindsey Day Farnsworth and Pam Porter, UW-Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems

Report: Regional Food Freight – Lessons from the Chicago region

With insight from 26 campus and stakeholder advisors, the support of the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service’s Transportation Division and the input from regional food supply chain businesses throughout the region, CIAS releases its report on Regional Food Freight, authored by Michelle Miller, Bill Holloway, Ernie Perry, Ben Zietlow, Pete Lukszys, Nancy Chachula, Anne Reynolds and Alfonso Morales.

This 68 page report details the process we used to assess the Chicago region food system and our findings through the three year participatory research effort. It includes eleven sections with 17 figures to illustrate key concepts, along with extensive supporting materials. It presents three innovations with proofs of concept that could be applied widely in the region and beyond to improve food distribution, both in rural and urban regions.

Download a free copy of the report Regional food freight final.

Excerpt from the report

By considering the Upper Midwest regional food system as a whole, we were able to see patterns in how food could move more efficiently and support a more resilient, diversified agriculture. Food freight transportation links production and consumption regions into a complex web that has outgrown its ability to meet public and private objectives. Simple, targeted public and private investments in transportation and distribution infrastructure specifically to support small and medium supply chains could improve this.

Using systems tools, we identified potential solutions to food transportation-specific challenges, such as safety, congestion, and inadequate public resources for transportation infrastructure maintenance and development. All these potential solutions currently lay outside the traditional boundaries of the transportation system. By improving the food distribution system, they improve the transportation system, especially in a region critically important to national food flow, like Chicago. By using multiple methodologies, we gained a deeper understanding of how national and regional food systems work today, and how long-term food shipment trends impact current and future food production and markets.

Efficiency and diversity paradigms are fundamental leverage points in the food system. When we successfully optimize for both, we realize a more resilient food system that has the potential to elegantly address multiple business and public sector goals. Other paradigms that characterize the quality of system relationships, such as predation, competition, collaboration and cooperation, deserve a closer look, especially from a governance perspective. Identifying mutually advantageous ways to correct system failures through incentives is likely to improve supply chain dynamics more effectively than applying controls such as regulation.

Food systems have a number of critical thresholds that can be leverage points for improved food system organization. Sustainable agriculture practitioners are identifying bio-physical critical thresholds for food production, specific to the agricultural production region. In turn, they seek supply chain partners in transportation and markets that share their commitment to sustainability. Our investigation identified a number of transportation efficiency thresholds that shape the system and may serve as leverage for sustainability. Some are common knowledge within freight transportation and sustainable agriculture circles, while others may require additional research, especially region-specific research. They are:

  • Cropping systems diversity: There is a need for greater farming diversification at the landscape scale, especially near megaregions, to hit the sweet spot between diversity and efficiency in food systems. The Chicago megaregion is a case in point, where Illinois farmers are less diverse than farmers in Wisconsin and Michigan Restoring agricultural diversification throughout the Corn Belt is important to regional resiliency, especially within the four hundred mile regional radius of large urban markets.
  • Distance to market: Limited research suggests that farmers selling into direct markets realize a transportation efficiency when they are no further than 45-55 miles from point of sale while regional transportation efficiencies may be gained at about 400 miles or less because of engineering advances applicable to shorter hauls. To use hours of service regulations to best advantage, less than 200 miles is a round trip to market in an eight- hour day, if traffic congestion isn’t an iss These critical thresholds can help identify appropriate locations for regional distribution infrastructure. Farmers interested in pooling product for regional wholesale markets may want to limit their aggregation within the 45- 55 mile radius, and limit their markets to about 400 miles. To boost their access to significant local wholesale markets, shippers may want to partner with mid-size cities in developing combination facilities that both aggregate products and weave together multiple smaller supply chains so that they may also sell to wholesale buyers (such as groceries, institutions and restaurants) within about fifty miles to the terminal. Large cities that invest in distribution infrastructure may want to prioritize service to smaller, community-owned supply chains that are unable to invest in their own private warehouses necessary to receive shipments, and target shippers no further than 400 miles. Distribution infrastructure that is proximate to large cities and natural features such as the Great Lakes or mountains may change these mileage calculations.
  • Truck size: 53’ trucks must be fully loaded for shippers to realize efficiency. This means shippers must be able to load 30 pallet footprints or a maximum combined weight of 80,000 pounds (tractor, fuel, gear, and loaded trailer). Farmers must aggregate their product for shipment at this scale to efficiently reach regional markets. It then follows that there must be sufficient production of various foods within a region for wholesale marketing to be efficient.
  • Contracts: Regular contracts along the supply chain are more efficient than erratic, irregular relationships. The seasonal nature of production in the Upper Midwest, and extreme weather impacts on food production mean that shippers and trucking companies will either loose efficiencies in this part of the business or must find creative ways to overcome volatile conditions and associated uncertainty. Regular professional meetings for small supply chain businesses may improve communication and build trust Another approach may be rewarding north-south collaborative intra-regional supply chains.
  • Terminals and trip segments: For regional wholesale food shippers to gain efficiency, they need one point to transfer ownership of produce. Combining regional trucking with last mile deliveries is inefficient. Terminals that operate with an explicit goal to serve small wholesale supply chains are increasingly necessary as national supply chains continue to consolidate even while extreme weather threatens those supply chains.
  • Settlement patterns and city scale: Congestion barriers to free flowing traffic in urban and suburban regions create significant barriers to efficiency and associated costs that are shouldered by trucking companies and shippers. This leads to limited food access in poorer regions of cities. Rural regions lack food access when there is a lack of regional food production diversity and where supply chains are too large to efficiently serve them. Are there ways to more equitably share the costs of congestion and support smaller supply chains? There is a need to identify scalar sweet spots for transportation systems and other infrastructure that serve supply chains into urban centers and rural towns.
  • Engine and fuel efficiencies: Considerable research on engine efficiencies is underway and can shape how we invest in food infrastructure to create positive incentives to adopt these engineering innovations. For instance, we know that OTR vehicles operate best at constant, higher speeds. We know that the price of diesel must reach about $3.75 before it is economically prudent for companies to invest in alternate fuel vehicles unless there are other economic incentives. Advances in hybrid technology may alter existing critical thresholds, as may other engineering innovations. Engineers are setting the pace for change so there is opportunity in anticipating and matching this pace.

Our investigation identified two distinct categories of regional food supply chain practitioners, defined by scale – the businesses that are scaling up from direct markets to wholesale markets, and the businesses that have a decade or more experience in wholesale markets and are looking for ways to make their supply chains more sustainable. These supply chain categories face unique and shared challenges and opportunities to move food freight regionally. To meet public sustainability and food security goals, each of these business categories may benefit from targeted public intervention to reshape the way food markets are currently organized, especially in light of urbanization. Our project identified three ways to reorganize food systems, each paired with proof of concept examples:

  • supporting smaller, regional supply chains through collaborative, not-for-profit shipping terminals, as operated in Ontario;
  • developing collaborative, not-for-profit drop yards to serve multiple midsize supply chains for urban freight moving through megaregions, similar to one developed by a large private company for a very large supply chain; and
  • extending federal and metro-region support to regional food supply chains so that they may better serve regional markets, as in the Chicago example. Another example that logically follows is to promote federal farming support programs that encourage food production for regional markets.

Entire food supply chains are poised to emerge that are made up of farms and other firms that share a commitment to sustainability and local economic development. Improving the regional organization of food flow, if it is based on an understanding of the relationships that create system constraints in regional food movements, will allow private sector entrepreneurs to seize opportunities to optimize fuel use without sacrificing food access or sustainable farming practices. First mile, OTR regional, and last mile transportation businesses; product aggregation intended for regional wholesale markets; and regional supply chain aggregation in megaregions are just a few opportunities that could improve the climate for small business development in food production and retailing. Business investment in multi-firm collaboration puts innovative entrepreneurs in the lead as primary investors in developing societal assets. Midsize farms that aggregate products for shipment currently practice multi-firm collaboration. Forward-thinking businesses, with encouragement from the public sector, could organize and support similar efforts within regional food supply chains to improve collaboration between shippers, trucking firms and wholesale buyers. Given the unique nature of food in a healthy society, improving the organization of the food supply chain so that it meets public goals is a civic responsibility.

Workshop: Freight innovations to optimize regional food resiliency

Tuesday January 5, 2016, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

Andrew Lutsey, Chicago Local Food

Andrew Lutsey, Chicago Local Food

Moving food from rural areas into large metropolitan regions is an expensive proposition. Regional shippers are looking for ways to reduce labor costs and improve fuel efficiency. Distribution centers are interested in securing more regionally-produced food to meet consumer demand and differentiate their stores. Planners are looking for ways to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. Food activists want to see food businesses owned by community members bloom in their neighborhoods. This workshop provided an opportunity to consider systemic improvements to how food is moved from rural to urban areas and in such a way that potentially can meet the needs of all stakeholders.The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) hosted the workshop. 58 participants spent the day thinking through issues related to food freight movement.


The workshop ran seven hours, including a working lunch for networking. Three hours were devoted to hearing the experiences of people in the field working on improving transportation and supply chains from rural farming areas to urban markets. Equal time was given for practitioners to discuss in small groups about their concerns and to respond to ideas and questions posed by guest speakers.


  • Regional shipper concerns when accessing the Chicago market
  • Private sector efforts to improve freight transportation in the Los Angeles megaregion
  • Efficiencies to be gained from splitting trucking options into rural and urban modes
  • Market issues for accessing regional food and last mile delivery

Steve Viscelli leading the workshop

Steve Viscelli leading the workshop


9:00 – Welcome

Ernest Perry – Center for Freight Infrastructure Research and Education

Steve Viscelli – Swathmore College

Irv Cernasukas – Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks

 Tom Murtha – Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

Mr. Gregory Grajewski – USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service

Michelle Miller – UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems

9:30 – Session one: Shipping food regionally, efficiently

Larry Alsum , Alsum Farms & Produce, Alsum Trucking , Friesland, WI Alsum – Regional Food Freight Workshop Presentation 1.5.16 FINAL

Rob Reich, Schneider Trucking, Green Bay, WI

Michelle Miller, reporting on the UW Grainger School of Supply Chain Management MBA student project regional food freight presentation

 Table talk: What is your experience with regional food shipment – what are the challenges and opportunities?

11:00 – Get your lunch! Arbor is feeding us

11:30 – Session two: Unleashing engineering efficiencies

Michael Roeth, North American Council for Freight Efficiency NACFE Chicago Reg Food Freight 010516

Sage Kokjohn, University of Wisconsin – Engine Research Center  Kokjohn Regional Food Freight

 Table talk: What do private sector supply chain actors need to make this switch?

1:15 – Break

1:30 – Session three: Meeting the market demand for regional food

Barbara Daly – Testa Produce, Chicago Testa Trucks

Cynthia Haskins – IL Farm Bureau Jan. 5

Lee Strom – FARM Illinois FARM Illinois IPPA

 Table talk: How can we better connect Chicago to our regional food economy?

 3:15 – Synthesis: Irv Cernauskas and Steve Viscelli, with participants

3:45 – Concluding Remarks: Ernest Perry

Download the rff meeting packet.

Download the Meeting Evaluation_CMAP results

There will be additional materials available for review provided at the meeting, including a number of journal articles on food resilience published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Studies this fall. Resilient food systems will be addressed at the “Food-Energy-Water Nexus” themed conference of the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) on January 19-21 in Washington DC (, and a “Strengthening American Food System Resilience” workshop at the conference (, should be of particular interest to people who work with the food system. The workshop, which will be from 2:30 to 5:30 pm on the last day of the conference, is based on the recently published Symposium on American Food Resilience (, which addresses the security of our food supply in terms of the ability of the food system to withstand 21st century shocks and stresses; and what scientists, teachers, environmental and food-system professionals, farmers, and other food system practitioners can do through research, innovation, education, community action, or other means to make the food system more resilient and secure. Free downloads of all 27 articles in the Symposium are available at The first half of the “Strengthening American Food System Resilience” workshop will lay out key Symposium results with illustrative examples from North Carolina, Wisconsin, and California’s Central Valley. Problems will be included, but the focus will be on solutions. In the second half of the workshop, participants will generate a tangible take-home product by examining the resilience issue in terms of their own interests, using facilitated strategic planning to organize their ideas about “Where do we go from here?”


Mr. Rob Reich – Senior Vice President, Equipment, Maintenance & Driver Recruiting, Schneider National, Inc. Schneider was established in 1935 and is one of the nation’s leading trucking companies. With an extensive history of commitment to the environment, Schneider is regularly awarded by EPA’s Smart Way program for its initiatives to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency.

Mr. Larry Alsum -Alsum Farms & Produce & Alsum Trucking, Freisland, WI. Larry starting farming and packing potatoes and onions in 1981. Today his company is packing and marketing over  1.8 million cwt of potatoes, including russets, reds, golds, whites, and fingerlings from a number of farms in the Midwest. In addition to growing and selling potatoes, Alsum Farms & Produce also buys onions, sweet potatoes and pumpkins and markets them under the Alsum label as well as private labels. The company wholesales 300 different kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables including locally grown apples, onions, hard squash, peppers, cabbage, zucchini, celery, sweet corn and asparagus during the season.

Mr. Mike Roeth – North American Council for Freight Efficiency. Mike has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as the Executive Director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.   Mike is also leading the Trucking Efficiency Operations for the Carbon War Room.  Mike’s specialty is brokering green truck collaborative technologies into the real world at scale.  He has a BS in Engineering from the Ohio State University and a Masters in Organizational Leadership from the Indiana Institute of Technology.  Mike served as Chairman of the Board for the Truck Manufacturers Association, Board member of the Automotive Industry Action Group and currently serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

Mr. Sage Kokjohn – University of WI-Madison, Engine Research Center. Sage is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His research interests include engine modeling and experiments focused on explaining the mechanisms controlling high-efficiency combustion systems and developing pathways to achieve robust, high-efficiency energy conversion. He received his Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2012. Professor Kokjohn was a visiting researcher at the Combustion Research Facility at Sandia National Labs where he used optical engine experiments to investigate low temperature, premixed combustion. He has over 40 publications related to high efficiency engine combustion.

Ms. Barbara Daly – Testa Produce has provided produce to Chicago wholesalers for more than 100 years. With a strong commitment to sustainability and sourcing local product, Testa Produce makes regular runs to farms in the Upper Midwest to fill its orders. Barbara Daly, facilities manager, is building a CNG fleet for deliveries and was recognized by Chicago Area Clean Cities for the effort.

Ms. Cynthia Haskins – Illinois Farm Bureau. Cynthia is the Manager of Business Development and Compliance for the Illinois Farm Bureau. Haskins is responsible for creating and implementing programs to assist with local business development; including the expansion of marketing and distribution networks for local food and products as well as keeping informed on food safety issues, labeling requirements and nutrition programs. She has coordinated over 20 Meet the Buyer events, of which link farmers with potential grocery and foodservice buyers. In addition, she has coordinated the Local and Regional Food Summit, an event that has attracted over 300 industry and Illinois Farm Bureau members. Haskins has been in the industry for more than 33 years. As president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, she worked on legislative, environmental, and marketing initiatives for the grower-member association. Other experience includes working for marketing organizations such as David Oppenheimer Group, an international fruit and vegetable brokerage, where she served as a marketing brand manager representing New Zealand apple, pear, and kiwifruit growers. Haskins was a regional manager for the Washington Apple Commission, a grower nonprofit representing apple growers. She was a general manager for Continental Food Service/Sysco, a multi-million dollar produce foodservice organization. Other organizations she has worked for include Dole, an international fruit and vegetable marketing company, Sunkist, a grower cooperative, and the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Mr. Lee Strom – FARM Illinois. Mr. Strom is Executive Director for Food and Agriculture RoadMap (FARM) Illinois and is involved with creating the Illinois Council for Food and Agriculture. FARM Illinois recently completed an extensive public process to set a way forward that strengthens the roles played by the Chicago region and Illinois as a whole in local and regional food systems. Mr. Strom also serves as a principal of Open Prairie and its Rural Opportunity Fund, an Illinois-based private equity company with focus on agriculture and food companies.

Mr. Gregory Grajewski – USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service, Marketing Services Division. Mr. Grajewski currently works on the Local Foods Promotion Program and previously worked on terminal market analysis and wholesale food issues for USDA. He graduated from Politechnika Poznanska in Poznan, Poland with a masters degree in construction project management and received an MBA from Southeastern University in Washington, DC. Prior to his employment in USDA he worked in private industry both in Poland and US managing various construction projects.

Mr. Stephen Larsen – University of Wisconsin Grainger School of Business, Center for Supply Chain Management. With a degree from Brigham Young University in supply chain management, he joined the transportation company C.R. England. He worked as a logistics analyst, designed and priced new business opportunities within the company’s dedicated fleet services division. In this role, he worked on numerous projects including transportation network design, financial modeling, contract and rate negotiations, and continuous improvement projects.


Mr. Irv Cernauskas – Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks. Ir and his wife founded Fresh Picks in 2006 to provide new market opportunities for farmers and to help stimulate the re-growth of Chicago’s local food system. Fresh Picks’ home delivery service brings great food to thousands of area households, has developed farm based food aggregation hubs to drive down shipping costs, and adds several hundred thousand dollars to the incomes of local farmers each year. Irv earned an MA in Economics, an MBA from MIT, and worked for 20 years as a corporate executive and running his own IT consulting practice. Several years of service on the boards of Seven Generations Ahead and The Land Connection helped forge friendships with local farmers. This convinced Irv of the importance of local agriculture to health, the environment and rural communities, and was the inspiration for starting Fresh Picks.

Dr. Steve Viscelliconcept originator. (PhD, Indiana University; MA, Syracuse University; BA, Colgate University) is an economic sociologist who studies the trucking industry.  In 2010 he began working with the University of WI -Center On Wisconsin Strategy as a National Science Foundation fellow.  His work focused on developing alternative ways to move freight by truck that reduce fuel consumption and shipping costs, improve working conditions for truckers, and relieve traffic congestion.  He engaged industry and government stakeholders to evaluate the benefits and feasibility of what he calls “urban truck ports” that allow truckers to coordinate the of use super-efficient trucks designed for urban or rural hauling.  Urban Truck Ports white paper  Since 2013, Steve has been a Visiting Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College. He is currently completing a book about how deregulation transformed labor markets and work in long-haul trucking and thus fostered a revolution in logistics, based on six months of fieldwork as a long-haul trucker, more than 120 interviews with truckers, and survey data.

Lead facilitator:

Ernie Perry – Ernie is the Program Administrator and Facilitator of the Mid-America Freight Coalition. Before joining the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE), Perry was the Administrator of Freight Development at the Missouri Department of Transportation. During his seventeen-year tenure at MoDOT, he also served as research administrator, organizational results administrator, senior environmental specialist, and socioeconomic specialist. Perry has worked closely with freight leadership at AASHTO, FHWA, and MARAD, served on NCFRP panels, and participated in the Scan of European Union Freight Corridors. Perry holds a BS in animal science, an MS in rural sociology, and a PhD in rural sociology from the University of Missouri–Columbia.


Alonzo, Joe CDOT

Alsum, Larry Alsum Farms & Produce, Alsum Trucking

Arias, Lauro Arias Agribusiness Consulting

Bigelow, Mark Local Foods Chicago

Bingham, Samantha Chicago Dept of Transportation

Block, Daniel Chicago State University

Bosso, Max  Elwood International Port

Boxer, Greg  Coyote Logistics

Broadnax, Jane Chicago Department of Transportation

Cernauskas, Irv Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks

Chachula, Nancy Consultant

Daly, Barbara Testa Produce, Inc.

Doetch, Ronald SITL

Eby, Ben Fifth Season Coop

Frankel, Noam Optimal Freight

Gollnik, Bob Cambridge Systematics

Grajewski, Gregory USDA AMS TM

Haney, Harry Logistics consultant

Haskins, Cynthia Illinois Farm Bureau

Haucke, Rufus  Just Local Foods

Heiderscheidt, John  AgroBuild, LLC

Holloway, Bill   SSTI

Jones, Danielle  WI Economic Development Corp.

Kemble, Rebecca  City of Madison

Kettleson, Craig  MadREP

Kessler, Grant Chicago Market – a Community Co-Op

King, Warren WellSpring Ltd

Knobel, Zachary  Coyote Logistics

Kokjohn, Sage  University of Wisconsin – Madison

Larsen, Kelly  Windy City Harvest

Lawless, Greg  University of Wisconsin Extension

Lehman, Karen  Fresh Taste

Liu, Caitlyn  WI Department of Transportation

Lloyd, Sarah  Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative

Lutsey, Andrew  Chicago Local Foods

Maietta, Anthony  US EPA Region 5

Maldonado, Rosario  Chicago Botanic Gardens

Maynard, Kelly  UW CIAS

Miller, Michelle  UW-CIAS

Morales, Alfonso  UW-Madison

Murtha, Thomas  CMAP

Perry, Ernie  MAFC/CFIRE – UW Madison

Reich, Rob  Schneider National, Inc.

Roback, Bradley  City of Chicago

Roeth, Michael  NACFE

Scaman, Robert  Goodness Greeness

Schone, Ryan  UW-Extension

Siegel, Sidney  Natural Direct

Small, Cathy  FamilyFarmed

Smith, Bradley  People’s Food Co-Op

Jennifer Spitz  Consultant

Strom, Lee  FARM Illinois

Szwak, Andrew  Openlands

Tansley, Matthew  Kane County

Viscelli, Steve  Swarthmore College

Wilborn, Pat  PortFish, Ltd.

Zietlow, Benjamin  CFIRE Center


Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

233 South Wacker Drive, Suite 800
Chicago, Illinois 60606
312-454-0400 Voice


The meeting is part of a project organized by the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. The project is supported by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service – Transportation Division.

Planning Committee:

The planning committee for this project involves three farmers selling into the wholesale market, four regional supply chain businesses, three regional non-profit partners, ten academics and seven students. For more information on the committee download our bios- truck hub proj-11.10.15


Watching farm trucks pull into the Capital Square farmers market in Madison, WI can make one wonder how to get regional food to regional markets more efficiently. Driftless farm and food businesses like Driftless Organics, Morningside Orchard, 5th Season and Organic Valley work hard to figure out how to engage with green transportation options to get their products to Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, even Chicago. Logistics, labor regulations, congestion, docking arrangements make this all very complex.

In April, 2010 CIAS convened a Driftless Food and Farm meeting where some of the participants broke out to discuss transportation and logistics. Compared to some of the other topic groups, this group was at relatively early stages of thinking, planning and doing. People in the region were working independently, but were 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.

The topic group identified these 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?

CIAS is pleased to report on progress made to address some of these questions.In 2011 and 2012, CIAS made important connections to freight engineering research center on campus – CFIRE – and supported a group of students who helped us to understand what issues we face in moving high-value local food to regional markets. Rosa Kozub, Lindsey Day-Farnsworth, David Nelson, Ben Zeitlow, Peter Allen, and Rachel Murray, along with Teresa Adams, Alfonso Morales, and Ernie Perry all worked with CIAS to crack this nut.

In February 2013, CIAS teamed up with USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service’s transportation division to offer the meeting “Networking Across the Supply Chain: Transportation Innovations for Local and Regional Food Systems“. More than 100 participants – the majority of whom had business interests in this topic – participated and shared their expertise.

June 2014 USDA-AMS and UW-CIAS released a report that describes what happened at this meeting and our best thinking to date on some of the fundamental questions facing the local food movement. To view a summary of the meeting, go to:  Emergent strategies that we’ve documented include:

  • strengthen regional supply chains by helping like-minded businesses find one another, and provide a venue for business communication and supply chain governance;
  • improve logistics at the region level, recognizing that LTL freight requires terminal markets that can de-aggregate products and TL freight, especially around metro regions, may benefit from innovative infrastructure investments; and
  • investigate multi-modal and dual purpose approaches to increase efficiencies

Later in 2014, CIAS and USDA-AMS transportation division released our report: Networking Across the Supply Chain In 2014 and 2015 CIAS shared this information at a variety of national and regional meetings and started to form some ideas for necessary infrastructure improvements. Listen to the transportation session on How Great Cities Are Fed podcast

2015, CIAS, CFIRE, the Center for Coops and the State Smart Transportation Initiative (a project of another UW campus research center – COWS), and the campus Engine Research Center  are working together with supply chain business partners to take this work to the next level. View the bios of our UW team and supply chain team. We are meeting in Chicago January 5th, 2016 to discuss some of the key infrastructure needs to make efficient and righteous regional food a reality.

In June 2015, twenty people met on the UW Campus to further discuss issues relevant to greening transportation.

We now have a nimble team of researchers, staff and students on campus with growing expertise on supply chain development for regional food. Thanks to all who participated in the six Driftless Food and Farm meetings who helped shape subsequent investigations and whose input resulted in research with real-world usefulness. If you are working on freight transportation and values-based food supply chains, I would love to hear your thinking on this.

Watch for further updates as we make progress. And please let us know what you think of our work in this topic area, at any time.