As part of the Plan East Tennessee partnership, the Food Policy Council’s own Chad Hellwinckle, along with colleagues at the University of Tennessee’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center recently authored an assessment of the Knoxville Regional Foodshed. The assessment defined the foodshed as a 50 mile radius ecompassing 11 counties where farmers find Knoxville as the nearest large market to sell their produce. The goal of the Knoxville Regional Foodshed Assessment to is to:
- Evaluate current food production in the Knoxville region, and identify strong points and missing components,
- Measure the economic impacts of increasing local food production, and
- Recommend next-steps in building our local food system.
The study found that the foodshed’s crop and pastureland could potentially supply the current demand for all fruit, vegetable, dairy and meat, however, the demand from our growing population by 2040 could not be met. The assessment also posed an interesting goal of what achieving 20% local food production would mean for our local economy.
Growing and processing 20% of our food locally would generate $500 million of additional economic activity, create nearly 5,000 new jobs and generate $5.8 million in local and state taxes. [Also] for every dollar spent for local local food consumption within the study area, an additional $0.51 in economic activity is generated throughout the study region.
A series of recommendations are also presented in the study to help grow local agriculture, including the establishment of a slaughterhouse, designating food corridors for cooperative tool, equipment and knowledge sharing with the next generation of farmers, and the development of a food hub to assist entrance into the market for smaller scale producers.
The full assessment is chocked full of interesting information related to the current status of food production and consumption in our region, the economic importance of growing local agriculture, and the potential our region has for increasing this high return section of our local economy.
The assessment in it’s entirety is available at: http://knoxfood.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/Knoxville%20Foodshed_Assessment_March2014.pdf