Novel methods for an interesting time: Exploring U.S. local food systems’ impacts and initiatives to respond to COVID

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The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health and social distancing mandates
caused unprecedented shifts and disruptions for local and regional food systems
(LRFS). The pandemic also brought new and heightened attention to the structure
and resiliency of US food systems, and LRFS appeared to be positioned to
significantly increase the scope and scale of their market reach as a result. Researchers
from three universities collaborated with staff from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service to recruit leaders from sixteen key
coalitions within the U.S. LRFS sector to frame an adaptive, community-driven set of
applied research activities to understand important themes, learn from effective
responses and gain insights into how local and regional supply chains may change
post-pandemic. In this paper, we summarise urgent and emergent strategies and
innovations from LRFS captured in a fall 2020 consumer survey, with additional
insights on how the survey was framed and interpreted, considering synthesis of
collaborative discussions and project team interactions. We conclude the article with a
set of research, policy and technical assistance priorities that were identified and
validated by this LRFS network.

Dawn Thilmany , Lilian Brislen, Hailey Edmondson,Mackenzie Gill, Becca B. R. Jablonski, Jairus Rossi, Tim Woods and Samantha Schaffstall

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