New KK&P Report: Strengthening Local Food Economies in the Appalachian Region
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28 April 2022
Photo: Steward

KK&P is thrilled to announce the release of our report, Agriculture and Local Food Economies in the Appalachian Region, prepared for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The report is the culmination of over a year and a half of research and development by KK&P, looking at current trends, dynamics, and opportunities in local and regional food economies across the Appalachian Region.

The ARC-defined Appalachian Region is a vast area, stretching from southern New York to northeastern Mississippi, and including 423 counties (recently increased from 420) across 13 states. The Region’s food systems and food economies are as diverse as its landscape and its nearly 26 million residents, with key products ranging from commodity corn and soy to large and small-scale animal agriculture, and from hay and horticulture to niche forest products like mushrooms and ginseng.

One major section of the report is devoted to analysis of the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, as well as additional relevant USDA datasets. Among the key data findings are that the Region lost farmland at a rate nearly double that of the U.S. from 2007 to 2017; Appalachian farms are substantially smaller, on average, than the typical U.S. farm; and that the Region appears to have meaningful room for growth in capturing SNAP (food stamps) dollars for locally grown foods.

Another section of the report outlines seven opportunity areas for stronger local food economies across the Region. Each opportunity profile is accompanied by case studies of related initiatives from across the Region or elsewhere in the U.S. The opportunities described in the report are:

  • Support the long-term viability of Appalachian agriculture through farmer training and land access and preservation.
  • Pursue innovative funding and financing models that open new streams of capital for local food businesses.
  • Enhance the efficacy of the Region’s distribution networks through strategic regional collaboration.
  • Build and strengthen supply chain networks and partnerships that support animal-based agriculture.
  • Elevate the Region’s unique identity through distinct Appalachian crops and products and place-based regional branding.
  • Capture more public and private food assistance dollars to support local food producers while enhancing community food security.
  • Support the viability of farms into the future by cultivating place-based entrepreneurship and climate-resilient enterprise models.

The full report may be viewed and downloaded at ARC’s website here.