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Communicating Economic Impact Assessments: How Research Results Influence Decision-maker Attitudes toward the Local Food Sector

Rahe, Mallory Lynn, Van Dis, Katrina, Gwin, Lauren
Journal of agriculture, food systems, and community development 2019 v.8 no.C pp. 95-105
attitudes and opinions, decision making, economic impact, food industry, food production, local food systems, markets, public sector, rural areas, social benefit, surveys
The local food sector continues to evolve as consu­mer preferences for economic, environmental, and social values create markets for a range of prod­ucts. Although measuring the economic impact of these complex systems can provide new insights, it remains challenging. This paper provides evi­dence of the effectiveness of presenting economic impact results to decision-makers as a way to increase public-sector interest in developing a small and growing local food system. Surveys of local leaders and statewide service providers indicate that most local decision-makers who were presented with the economic impact results say they are now more supportive of local food system develop­ment, especially in rural areas. In this region, both pro­ducing the economic impact study and pursuing a strategy for communicating the results of this study have promoted thinking about the potential of local food production in new ways and have informed conversations with policy-makers.