[Sdpg] First U.S. City Mandates Purchase of Locally Grown Organic Food, WOODBURY COUNTY, IOWA

Wesley Roe and Marjorie Lakin Erickson lakinroe at silcom.com
Sun Apr 16 06:43:11 PDT 2006




Local Food Purchase Policy Supports Local Farmers, Generates a Localized
Economy, Encourages Schools, Institutions, And Restaurants To Buy Locally
Produced Farm Products, And Promotes Community Spirit, Health, And
Economic Development

SIOUX CITY, IA - January 10, 2006 - The Woodbury County Board of
Supervisors today took another bold step to revitalize the county's
rural communities by adopting the 'Local Food Purchase Policy'; a
resolution to mandate the purchase of locally grown organic food,
through its food service contractor, when departments of Woodbury County
serves food in its usual course of business.  The resolution has the
potential of shifting $281,000 in annual food purchases to a local
farmer-operated cooperative, thus increasing local demand that will spur
increased production and processing.  "The Local Food Purchase Policy
will create local jobs in the food sector and expose our producers, who
produce organic and non-organic farm products, to markets outside of the
immediate area," said Rob Marqusee, Director of Rural Economic
Development for Woodbury County.

"We look forward to working with Woodbury County on this innovative
program.  We are always looking to develop local suppliers for our many
clients who purchase millions of dollars in food goods every year," said
Marlin Sejnoha, President of CBM Food Service, located in Sioux Falls,
South Dakota.  The Local Food Purchase policy defines "local" as that
food which is grown and processed within 100 miles of Sioux City, Iowa,
and the limitation may be extended if there is not a supplier within
that radius.  "Woodbury County is taking a regional approach to economic
development because our county benefits when dollars are circulated
within the region," said Rob Marqusee.

The policy supports the Organics Conversion Policy that was adopted by
the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors on June 28, 2005; the Local
Food Purchase Policy provides a market for those farmers that convert to
organic production of certain items needed for the Woodbury County
facilities.  Transitional crops are included in the mandatory sections
of this policy.  "We support innovative ways to spur economic
development at the county level; this policy has the real possibility of
generating economic activity in Woodbury County, and we do not want to
pass up an opportunity to help our local producers," said Larry Clausen,
Chairman of the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.

As the first county in the nation to mandate local purchase of organic
food products, the policy enumerates price provisions that protect the
county from significant increased costs that may result from this
policy.  "This is not a subsidy of local farmers.  It is expected that,
with the savings from reduced transportation costs, and bulk sales of
local food, the price will remain competitive with historic costs for
these food items.  If the price of the food materially increases, or if
those increases defeat the net benefit to the county of buying locally
produced food, Woodbury County can opt out of the agreement," said Rob

Because the availability of supply of locally grown organic food will
not meet demand, the policy gives a strong preference for local
non-organic food production to meet unmet demand.  "We want to support
all of our farmers through this policy; while organic products are given
preference through a single-point-of-contact broker cooperative,
individual non-organic farmers can participate through listing their
products with the county," said Rob Marqusee.

"This policy will provide an opportunity for the Leopold Center to
assess the impact of local food commerce on the regional economy", said
Rich Pirog, Marketing & Food Systems Program Leader at the Leopold
Center, Iowa State University.  "This is an innovative policy, and as
such coming from the American heartland is a very exciting development
that bodes well for our future.  As far as we know, this is a first,"
said Bob Scowcroft, Executive Director of the Organic Farming Research
Foundation, Santa Cruz, California.

"It is our hope that our school systems, and other institutional
consumers of food products, look to locally produced food as a means to
improve the health of our young and elderly population alike.  It is
encouraged that local restaurants and supermarkets look to our quality
farmers for a portion of their product when making purchasing decisions.
We are a community that supports our businesses and workers.  In the
end, we anticipate a quality local food brand emerging from the
increased economic activity in our area," said Rob Marqusee.

The text of the policy may be found at:


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