Primed for produce production
Researchers at Iowa State University have released an online tool to help farmers calculate local demand for fruits and vegetables.
The program uses U.S. Census data and information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine demand for 80 crops in communities across Iowa and surrounding states. A manual also is being developed that will enable researchers in other states to replicate the concept.
Rich Pirog, associate director of the university’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, said the new online tool will be useful for farmers, economic developers and others interested in local food production.
“Fruits and vegetables are not program crops, so there’s no subsidies for planting them and the level of risk is higher,” he said.
Iowa State researcher David Swenson released a report earlier this year that considered the impact of fruit and vegetable production on southwest Iowa. He concluded that farm level production increases could generate, within the 10-county area, $2.67 million in labor incomes and the equivalent of 45 jobs.
Another study from Swenson examines the potential economic impacts
to farmers and regional economies if there was an increase in the production of 28
types of fresh fruits and vegetables for local consumption. The states studied were Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.