OWEGO — On Wednesday, the Tioga County Industrial Development Agency agreed to pursue a grant to fund a $26,000 agricultural supply chain study.
In particular, the venture looks to learn more about the local agricultural market flow of products produced in the county, said county Agricultural Development Specialist Megan Griffiths.
Griffiths explained that understanding where the county’s producers sell their goods, and where local consumers make their purchases, will help guide the growth of businesses and consumer access to locally produced goods.
Ultimately, the goal is to better facilitate linkages between the county’s farmers and targeted buyers, she said.
The study will compose of four steps.
First, it will assess and enumerate the different types of agriculture within the county and what those farmers produce.
Second, it would examine how much of what is produced stays in the county, and evaluate whether area farmers are satisfied with current marketing processes, as well as what barriers they face.
Third, the study will look at whether grocery stores, restaurants, schools and healthcare facilities purchase locally grown food, and gauge the interest of those entities in doing so. Griffiths noted that it would also help determine which barriers exist that are holding these transactions back.
Further, the study will estimate a rough economic impact of the above situations.
Lastly, points will be identified for targeted investment of resources, or other actions, that could be implemented to help boost the county’s agricultural community.
“We want to get a feel for what we have and where we can grow,” Griffiths said, noting that the county’s agricultural sector is one of the most promising for economic growth.
While the IDA unanimously agreed to fund the study, the county’s Economic Development and Planning department will continue to look for grant funds from the United States Department of Agriculture to either cover or reduce the cost.