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The Kansas Regional

Food Systems Task Force

Coordinator: Dan Nagengast, nagengast@earthlink.net

The Regional Food Systems Task Force is charged with the responsibility to identify ways to assist regional farmers and food producers in the production and marketing of food for regional consumers. Working with producer groups, farmers' market organizations, consumer groups, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and the Kansas Department of Commerce, the responsibility of this task force is to promote and assist in the development of a thriving regional food economy.

Our food and fiber system has developed over many years. Increasingly, food is no longer grown, processed or consumed in the same region. Formerly, much of the economy in a rural state such as Kansas, was focused on food production, which fed us first, and provided us with good livelihoods as we sold the excess. As the system has developed, we have increasingly become a provider of raw agricultural products, (often sold at below the cost of production), to industries and owners elsewhere. The bulk of the profits from these products leave the state, while the risks of growing them, the waste from their production, and the depletion of our resource base remain our problems.

That said, many hurdles stand in the way of revitalizing the local and regional food economy. A Food Policy Council addresses this issue by first of all surveying production, processing, and marketing resources already in existence. This process also helps to identify stakeholders and uncover state and federal policies in need of review if we seek to encourage such a food and fiber system. Secondly, the Food Policy Council works with stakeholders and governmental agencies and regulators to implement new policies that will encourage more local farmers, food processors and food retailers.

Finally, the Food Policy Council works to develop new marketing channels, food chains, and other infrastructure needed to realize a truly regional food system that is integrated into existing food supply networks. The goal is an enhanced local food economy, decreased risk to the grower, and environmentally sound systems which recycle wastes back into production.

Stakeholders/Task Force members include direct marketing farmers; farmers market representatives; retailers, wholesalers and distributors interested in purveying local foods, the Dept of Agriculture staff who develop rules and regulations; the Agricultural Products people from Kansas Dept. of Commerce; KSU and Extension Researchers; interested agricultural groups; and consumer organizations.

Milestones:

  • Organized Five Direct Marketing Workshops held in Dodge City, Great Bend, Salina, Topeka and El Dorado

  • Proposed revision of the Food Inspection regulations to allow a “Domestic Kitchens” exemption

  • Proposed changes to the Kansas Egg Law

  • Participated in an on-going revision of the Kansas Dept. of Agriculture’s web site to more clearly communicate direct marketing regulations and laws

  • Completed third year of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and expansion of it, including proposal for increased state funding

  • Proposed implementation of the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, including proposal for state funding

  • Completed a pilot project in Lawrence and Wichita to utilize wireless technology at farmers markets for Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) swipe cards used to provide benefits to low-income citizens.
    Click here to see photos from the Wichita Farmers' Market in August 2006..

  • Conducted trainings for farmers market managers and vendors

  • KDHE organized farmers market near the capitol for state employees during the summer of 2006

  • Roll-out of the Bringing Freshness to Your Table promotional campaign for Kansas grown foods

  • On-going support of numerous projects impacting local food production including season extension in high tunnels, value added processing, farmers market development, business planning for farmers, and training of new market growers.

  • Developing an on-line brokering service for growers and institutional food systems for testing in 2007. http://www.kansasrivervalley.com/

For more information, contact: Dan Nagengast 785/748-0959 nagengast@earthlink.net

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