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Cooperatives and Food Hubs

Food Hub truck (Source Leopold Center/Iowa State.)
"A regional food hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand." [National Food Hub Collaboration] 

Cooperatives are "organization[s] formed for the purpose of producing and marketing goods or products owned collectively by members who share in the benefits." [NALT]

USDA. Agricultural Marketing Service.

"The Food Hub Directory lists businesses or organizations that actively manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products to multiple buyers from multiple producers, primarily local and regional producers, to strengthen the ability of these producers to satisfy local and regional wholesale, retail, and institutional demand." Food hub managers may add their market to the database.

USDA. Rural Development.

Links to USDA Rural Development’s resources for cooperatives, including education and research, funding opportunities, and data and statistics.

USDA. Rural Development.

"This report presents an overview of the myriad issues facing food hubs across the United States." The authors includes a definition of a food hub, examine the rationale for food hub formation, and explore the economic role of food hubs. The report includes "some of the many organizational structures and services that food hubs offer, including the emerging area of virtual food hubs," and provides examples of the challenges and limitations faced by food hubs.

Farm Answers. 

Multi-volume series identifying lessons learned from food hub failures and providing information and guidance to new and existing food hubs.

  • Volume 1: Lessons from the Field "compiles a number of best business practices for starting or expanding a food hub enterprise" … and "includes operational profiles of the food hubs profiled in the report."  
  • Volume 2: A Business Operations Guide "focuses on operational issues faced by food hubs," including organization, infrastructure, logistics, risks, and human resources
  • Volume 3: Assessing Financial Viability “provides benchmarks for established and emerging food hubs to use as a comparison for assessing their own financial viability and for making strategic business decisions."
  • Volume 4: Learning from Food Hub Closures provides six case studies and identifies six lessons for success

National Good Food Network; Wallace Center at Winrock International; United States Department of Agriculture.

A Web portal on food hubs featuring webinars, publications, educational materials, contributed resources, food hub feasibility studies, conference proceedings, research and more.

University of California (Davis).  Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP).

A collection of publications and literature reviews that "explore opportunities and challenges for food hubs and VBSC implementation, and can be used as resources for participants interested in orienting their work toward values-based marketing and distribution."

USDA. Agricultural Marketing Service.

"This resource guide is designed to give readers a greater understanding of what regional food hubs are, their impacts, strategies to assist their success and growth, and direction on where to find
financial resources to support them."

USDA. Rural Development.

This collection of publications provides education about the structure and operations of cooperatives and, for groups forming cooperatives, studies of various cooperative issues, annual farm cooperative statistics, and co-op directories.  Rural Cooperatives, a bi-monthly magazine, includes articles and news items relevant to agricultural and non-agricultural cooperatives.

Michigan State University. Center for Regional Food Systems.

Results from the biennial survey conducted by Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems and Wallace Center at Winrock International. Monitors economic trends, changes in services, and changes in customers served.

USDA. Agricultural Marketing Service.

"Food value chains represent an innovative business model in which agricultural producers, manufacturers, buyers, and other related supply chain actors form collaborative, transparent partnerships that attempt to combine product differentiation strategies with commitment to shared operational values and social mission goals. Food hubs are an important subset of food value chains."