Developing Strategies to Increase Prosperity for Small Farms Through Sustainable Livestock Production, Processing and Marketing
This project integrates economic and environmental research on local and regional livestock production, processing and consumer markets to determine optimal system configurations for increasing the economic and environmental sustainability of small farms. Growing interest in local and regional foods represents an opportunity for small producers to enter higher profit market niches, thereby increasing farm revenues. Marketing to local markets also provides economic support for rural areas. The benefits of producing and processing cattle in smaller volumes also can have environmental and social benefits, including avoidance of air and water pollution and increased quality of life for farmers, their employees, livestock, and communities. To take advantage of this opportunity much work needs to be done to identify the optimal strategies and
configurations of the livestock production, processing and marketing system to maximize benefit for small producers while minimizing environmental impacts. While growing interest in local and regional livestock production, processing and marketing exists, the feasibility of establishing USDA-certified local processing in every local area is doubtful. For this reason, the feasibility of livestock food systems in a variety of configurations, including both local and regional options for finishing, processing and marketing, will be researched. The result of this research will determine which circumstances and conditions will most benefit small producers and rural communities economically, while offering the most significant environmental benefits.