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North Carolina center receives $3.9 million grant for supply chain study

02/19/2013 @ 9:52am

North Carolina's Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) has been awarded a five-year $3.9 million grant to build and evaluate supply chains for local farmers and fishers to supply large-scale markets in North Carolina. The grant was awarded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

CEFS will work with existing wholesale distributors and with farmers, fishers, processors and emerging food hubs to address the growing demand for local foods by institutional and retail buyers.  The project seeks to create a statewide and national model of local food supply chains that serve large markets and incorporate values of the local foods movement — sustainability, fair pricing for producers and others in the value chain, and inclusion of medium and small-sized farms.

Lowes Foods grocery chain and Fort Bragg military base, as well as US Foods and Foster Caviness that supply food to Fort Bragg, are major project partners and represent the type of large-scale retail and institutional markets the supply chains will serve.

“We are excited to explore ways that local food supply chains can scale-up to significantly increase consumer access to seasonal and nutritious foods produced in the state,” said Dr. Nancy Creamer, co-director of CEFS at N.C. State University.  “Local food systems have the capacity to grow jobs; strengthen the economy; preserve farms, farm land, fishing communities and working waterfronts; and improve health outcomes, as consumer demand for fresh foods continues to increase.”

The project involves research, outreach and academic components and includes a number of partners within North Carolina. One of those partners is “Got to Be NC Agriculture,” the statewide marketing program of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that has worked since 2005 to increase markets by building consumer recognition of local foods.CEFS and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension System are excited about the goals of this project according to Dr. John O’Sullivan, co-director of CEFS from N.C. A&T State University. “It will bring resources to help producers make important market connections, creating jobs and enhancing farm viability," O'Sullivan said. "It will also engage students at both N.C. A&T State University and N.C. State in facilitating market-based changes, giving them important lessons and real world connections and experiences.”

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems is a partnership of North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  CEFS’s mission is to develop and promote food and farming systems that protect the environment, strengthen local communities, and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond.  For more information, please visit www.cefs.ncsu.edu.

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