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Fact
Author: Alexandra Toderiță
Centrul Român pentru Politici Europene

All throughout the world, but especially in Western countries, such as the United States of America, improving market access for small farmers and strengthening their position in the food-chain has become one of the priorities of the agricultural public policies. In the US, the “farm-to-table” movement took off in the 90s’ in response to the need to curb the fast process of small farms extinction due to the rapid development of agro-industrial giants and to reintroduce quality food – fresh, seasonal and local – to the American life style.

As the name suggests, various models have been developed in order to streamline the process in which food produced in small-scale farms reaches the consumer, in various degrees of processing. These include the “vegetable basket” (Community Supported Agriculture), mobile markets etc. Nevertheless, the basis of the American regional food systems is the food hub.

The food hub is defined as an entity which manages aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and trading of local and regional food products, but also provides technical assistance to its customers – the small farmers – on other vital aspects of their business – marketing, farm management, start-up and business incubation. The number of operations that the food hubs perform may vary according to size, geographical coverage, typology, but there are two paramount functions all food-hubs have: they act as a local food aggregator and as a selling point.

This report presents the main characteristics of these aggregators in the United States, as derived from the food-hubs the author visited in Pennsylvania and New York during the „Romanian-American Foundation Study Tour”.

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