Albertans invited to online local food consultation

Questionnaire The online site includes a recording of 
presentations at earlier discussion sessions

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Albertans have until May 10 to express their thoughts and comments on the local food-marketing systems and opportunities in the province. Local marketing opportunities are an important part of Alberta producers’ market portfolio. While international and domestic markets have the larger numbers, local markets have come on strong in recent years, as consumers turn their attention and their shopping dollars to buying locally grown and made products.

Many farm enterprises and new agriculture entrants begin marketing their food products in local markets, due to lower costs and strong revenue returns on investment, before expanding to export markets. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development projects, such as Explore Local, regional local food initiatives, and product and market development of local food products, have helped Alberta producers better understand and expand into local markets.

“Local Food discussion sessions were held in January at five locations in the province to help define the future direction of the Explore Local initiative,” says Bill Reynolds, manager of Local Food Policy and Planning with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “We are asking for further input and invite Albertans to share their thoughts on issues challenging the local food system in the province. This online questionnaire is also an opportunity to voice ideas that will be used to formulate key approaches as we move forward in developing a strong local food economy based on food grown, raised, made and sold in Alberta.”

The online questionnaire site includes a recording of the three 25-minute presentations which were presented at the five discussion sessions. Gathering Albertans’ feedback is important to build a vibrant local food economy, and this online method makes it convenient for a greater number of Albertans to access information and comment from the comfort of their home. The online questionnaire must be completed by May 10.

“The presentations and the questionnaire cover topics that dealt with capturing the local food opportunity, including production management, processing facilities, distribution, access to land, farmer recruitment, financing alternatives, marketing channels, food literacy and regulations,” says Reynolds. “A local food system can optimize economic returns within a community. It shortens the value chain and shortens the distance food must travel to reach consumers. A robust local food system can also create employment opportunities in Alberta communities.”

Those interested in being involved are asked to call the Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276) and the website link will be emailed giving access to the presentations and survey.

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