K-State plans workshops to support locally grown foods in Kansas

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Reports indicate 70% of consumers will pay more for food grown locally. Kansas State University will be hosting workshops in three Kansas locations to help the state’s meat, poultry and egg producers capitalize on growing demand for those products.

The Kansas Local Meat Marketing workshops are scheduled for Feb. 3 in Wichita, Feb. 24 in Olathe, and March 3 in Parsons. Each session will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will cover the following topics:
 Licensing and regulations: What you need to know.
 Marketing strategies and best practices.
 Panel discussion (local producers and processors).

Registration is available online at tinyurl.com/LocalMeatKSU. The cost to attend is $20, and includes lunch of locally grown foods. “These workshops are aimed at producers wanting to capitalize on the opportunities at hand,” said Margit Kaltenekker, the agriculture and natural resources agent for K-State Research and Extension’s office in Douglas County.

Kaltenekker said local foods have been a growing sector the past 10-20 years, amounting to an estimated $9.1 billion in sales nationally. “Disruptions of our local and regional supply chains during the pandemic that are still lingering have fueled consumer’s increased demand for locally grown foods, and highlighted the importance of rebuilding our internal infrastructure for a more resilient food system,” she said.

In 2022, The Nielsen Company reported that 46% of Americans prioritize locally grown food, and 70% are willing to pay more for it. Nielsen also found that this demand crosses all demographic groups, though Millennial (ages 23-38) and Gen Z (ages 8-23) groups are especially interested in sourcing local foods.

“The licensing and regulation of selling meat, poultry or eggs direct to consumers can be a confusing and complicated matter for those just beginning direct-to-consumer sales,” said Aaron Hyland, an agriculture and natural resources agent in K-State Research and Extension’s Rawlins County office.

“But those regulations are important to know before you even begin this process because things like your choice of processor, and even the size of your operation can affect what and how you are able to sell those products.” Kaltenekker said farm communities have historically been built on the interdependency within local and regional economies. Selling locally grown foods provides an economic benefit within the community, as well as provides products that are fresh and healthy, with fewer environmental impacts.

“Revitalizing our rural communities is crucial for our collective prosperity,” she said. “Providing a means for more producers to access local markets is what these workshops are all about.”

More information about the workshop is available by contacting Erica Blair by email, [email protected], or at local extension offices in Kansas.

The workshops are hosted by K-State’s Local Foods Transdisciplinary Team, and sponsored by the Kansas Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, Walton’s, Frontier Farm Credit, Allen County Farm Bureau, Neosho County Farm Bureau, Sedgwick County Farm Bureau, Johnson County Farm Bureau, Kansas Farmers Union, and the Kansas Rural Center.

By Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension news service

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