January 29th, 2019 – Topeka – Republic County Economic Development Director, Luke Mahin, was asked to join KSU Research & Extension Director, Marlin Bates, in presenting to the Kansas House Agriculture Committee. The presentation was on Harvesting Opportunities conference from last May an
Audio of the presentation – http://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00287/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20190124/-1/5695#info_
House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
Harvesting Opportunity in Kansas – A Symposium on Building Community Wealth Through Food and Farming
January 29, 2019
Keynote presentations delivered information ranging from food consumption trends, consumer preferences, and community capital development to farm profitability by market channel and food systems advancement as a means to strengthen rural/urban linkages.
Post-event surveys and conversations led to the development of two resources to assist with continuing the conversation. Community Food Systems: A Tool for Building Wealth in Kansas Communities was developed to provide Economic Development professionals with a framework for how food system development may fit into their work and to provide examples of such work. Eco Devo 101: A Discussion Guide for Kansas Food Councils was developed to provide food and farm councils with a tool to better engage with economic development.
County and Regional Food Policy Councils continue to grow in abundance. Typically based on food system assessments (see the North Central Kansas and Republic County examples), these coalitions help communities identify local needs and opportunities. Republic County stands out as a prime example of how Economic Development professionals can play an integral role in the development of food systems. Two Republic County farms were profiled in the 2018 publication Lessons Learned From Specialty Crop Growers Across Kansas by the KS Rural Center.
Opportunity to strengthen Kansas communities through food and farming economic development certainly exists. The USDA’s commitment to supporting projects in the local food supply chain is promising, and local efforts like NetWork Kansas E-Communities offer further support, but this KDA Specialty Crop Survey from 2016 indicates that there are likely additional needs beyond what those programs can deliver.