By Jimmy Dula, NFU Intern
As technology revolutionizes travel, products, games, and people, food producers should be looking to identify its role in food access. In what ways can technology facilitate the relationship between farmers and consumers?
During the most recent Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry hearing on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), representatives from both Amazon and Thrive Market testified that they are willing and able to accept SNAP benefits, a market share worth more than $66 billion annually. These companies and others like them can potentially deliver fresh-farm products to the door of consumers who might otherwise not have access to these goods, due to the limitations of either their location or transportation.
There are several government databases helping consumers to find local or regional food. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides searchable directories for farmers markets, CSAs, Food Hubs, and On-Farm Markets across the county. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) offers an online directory with a state-by-state breakdown.
Private companies extend similar services as well. LocalHarvest has built a national directory which lists over 30,000 family farms and farmers markets along with restaurants and grocery stores that feature local food. Each member creates and maintains their own listing.
With technology, the possibilities are seemingly limitless. Farmers just need to figure out how marketing technologies can best be used to improve access to customers and new markets.
What do you see as the pros and cons to food delivery services? Have you had success marketing products through farm directories? How can farmers work with technology services like these to grow their markets?