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

Wallace Center at Winrock International; United States Department of Agriculture.

Anyone engaged or interested in food systems can add their profile and use the database to learn about educational resources and practitioners in their area.

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."

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County. Local Food Promotion Program Grant Recipient, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

The objective is to improve profitability of local producers and increase accessibility to local foods. This toolkit, used as replicable system of data collection, will help users better understand their local food systems. We have found that the ability to identify a new population of local producers and resources has been crucial in offering further technical assistance, expanding our outreach, and connecting producers to markets, primarily a food hub serving producers in these four contiguous counties.

Sustainable Food Center. Local Food Promotion Program Grant Recipient, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

The study addressed the need for a central aggregation and distribution hub for local Central Texas producers seeking access to new or expanded market opportunities in the Austin metro area.