Designers of a new toolkit that assists communities with more standardized, targeted evaluations of food systems were recognized with a distinguished programming award at the 2017 Agricultural & Applied Economics Association's (AAEA) annual meeting in Chicago.
David Hughes, a professor in the University of Tennessee Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE), and a team from several land-grant institutions and agencies received Honorable Mention for AAEA's Distinguished Extension/Outreach Program Award. The program award was based on the team's work on The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices.
Based on a program commissioned by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the team developed the free toolkit to provide communities with a much-needed standardized approach on how to evaluate market and economic outcomes for local community leaders and policymakers, businesses, and consumers interested in developing local food systems.
The more standardized, targeted evaluations of food systems will likely result in better-informed policy and regulatory decisions, while improved analyses of impact estimates may lead to a more accurate determination of most appropriate and cost-effective food systems for specific communities.
Fourteen team members from six land-grant universities, a nonprofit, and USDA AMS built the toolkit that is comprised of seven modules. The toolkit has led to an eXtension Community of Practice (localfoodeconomics.com) and to numerous trainings throughout the U.S., including Knoxville and Memphis. Hughes was lead author on Module 6 and assisted in the final editing of several other modules.
Hughes is an ARE professor and Greever Endowed Chair in agribusiness development at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Other participating institutions and organizations included Colorado State University, Cornell University, Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin, the University of Vermont, Crossroads Resource Center, and USDA AMS.
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