Economic Impact of Beginning Farmers

A high priority issue that emerged in our surveys of the Beginning Farmer Learning Network (BFLN) members is quantifying the financial impacts that new farmers — even those with very small start-up businesses — have on their communities. We have plenty of heart-warming stories of social and environmental benefits, but often this isn’t enough to help service providers advocate on behalf of beginning farmers with funders, legislators, and planners.

Agenda and Outcomes for Webinar and Sept. 30 Face-to-Face Session (PDF)

  • Download the Sept 30 Session Presentations (all in PDF format):
    1. Stephan Goetz, Penn State, “Documenting the Economic Importance of Small, Local Firms (and Farms)”
      1. How economic data has been used to generate investment
      2. Do Local Food firms matter?
    2. Todd Schmidt, Cornell University, “Measuring Economic Impacts: Some IMPLAN Examples from the Field”
      1. Topics
        • What data is needed and how do you collect it?
        • Costs of survey methods
        • Building a team
      2. References
        • Conner, D.S., W.A. Knudson, M.W. Hamm, and C. Peterson. 2008. The Food System as an Economic Driver: Strategies and Applications for Michigan. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, 3(4):371-383.
        • Swenson, D. 2006. The Economic Impacts of Increased Fruit and Vegetable Production and Consumption in Iowa. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University.
        • Cantrell P., D.S. Conner, G. Erikcek, M.W. Hamm. 2006. Eat Fresh Grow Jobs, Michigan. Michigan Land Institute.
    3. David Conner, University of Vermont, “Beginning Farmers’ Economic Impact: How to Tell the Story”
      1. What works for you and what hasn’t been covered?
      2. What if the data does not tell the story you want, are there inherent risks in this analysis?  How can you manage that risk?
    4. Economic Impact-related Goals generated by session participants (PDF)
      1. The group’s answers to questions like “why is this important?” “what do we need to know?” and “what do we need to demonstrate?”