Building a Value Chain Collaborative in Kentucky

Grants and Contracts Details


Building a Value Chain Collaborative in Kentucky Abstract There is a growing need among Kentucky farmers for targeted marketing assistance for local food and farm products. The 2019 Kentucky Cooperative Extension Community Assessment Statewide Report identifies 1) the sustainability of family farms 2) more awareness and support for agriculture and agribusiness 3) more market opportunities for farmers 4) more profitable farms 5) more crop and livestock production opportunities as “important” community issues that warrant more attention and investment. The Kentucky Value Chain Collaborative (KYVCC) would help meet the needs of Kentucky farmers, address issues of concern from Kentucky communities, and improve the health and economic vitality of our food and farm economy in the Commonwealth. KYVCC will support the creation of three full time positions (value chain coordinators (VCCs)), in the form of “soft infrastructure” to support farmers in cultivating meaningful and sustainable markets for their local food products and relationships with scale-appropriate distribution channels. The VCCs will take on a number of roles (market matchmaking, technical assistance, relationship building, innovating ideas, resource prospecting, research & assessment) to meet farmers where they are and assist them with selling their products and meeting the demand for locally grown food in a coordinated and collaborative way with an emphasis on institutional/food service markets. This allows farmers to spend more time on the farm and for them to access markets they may not have otherwise been able to access. A coordinated and concerted effort to refine and elevate the past twelve years of successful value chain coordination activities in Kentucky is needed. The Food Connection, anchored within the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, supported by a diverse set of stakeholders, including the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, is uniquely positioned to lead and elevate the foundation of regional value chain coordination work that has been initiated in Kentucky for the benefit of Kentucky farmers. The Food Connection will serve as the convening/managing entity of this pilot project and will coordinate regular meetings, dissemination of best practices, and professional development among three new VCCs and key local food systems partners (e.g., Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Horticulture Council, Community Farm Alliance, the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, etc.). The VCCs will each be responsible for one of the three Extension Administrative Regions– West, Central, and East–and will leverage the UK Cooperative Extension network, regional universities and stakeholders, and infrastructure to amplify their connections to farmers, buyers, and stakeholders in each of the three regions. These VCCs will work collaboratively with existing partners and organizations involved in VCC work while serving as anchor personnel whose primary function is to develop intentional, transparent, and sustainable relationships with farmers, processors, distributors, and buyers in their regions. The VCCs will work across commodities (produce, protein, small grains, dairy, value-added products, etc.) and will regularly convene meetings and/or conduct site visits with farmers, processors, distributors, and buyers to continue to build sustainable and equitable local food value chains in Kentucky.
Effective start/end date11/15/2212/31/24


  • KY Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy: $400,544.00


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