Regional Food Systems in Nebraska

Release Date: 



Kim Preston,, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1008
or Elisha Smith,, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007    

Lyons, NE - Today, the Center for Rural Affairs released a report examining Nebraska consumers’ interest in and perceptions of local and regional foods. Nebraskans spend $4.4 billion annually on food with 90 percent of that money leaving the state. The Center for Rural Affairs report finds, however, that an opportunity and a need exist - stemming from the current positive attitude toward local foods and growing national emphasis on food security, health and environment - to create comprehensive regional food systems in Nebraska that include farming and community gardening, processing, storage, distribution and transportation, and food access.

The report, entitled, Regional Food Systems in Nebraska: The Views of Consumers, Producers and Institutions, demonstrates that Nebraska consumers are overwhelmingly interested in purchasing food directly from local producers but a large majority believe the supply of producers selling food directly is difficult to find.

“Consumers also showed a willingness to pay slightly more for locally grown food, but that willingness has a limit,” said Jon Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs Director of Rural Research and Analysis and co-author of the report. “Beyond a ten percent price increase willingness to pay decreases.”

To view or download a full copy of the Regional Food System report go to

According to Bailey, the demand for locally grown food exists among consumers, but the market, or at least the perception of the market, may be lacking. Farmers markets and grocery stores are the most common places to purchase locally produced foods. And consumers want increased grocery store and restaurant options to purchase locally produced foods.

“A number of consumers commented on the hours and location inconvenience of farmers markets, which may mean more business training is needed for those operating farmers markets,” Bailey explained.

“Producers also acknowledge that they face numerous challenges in building a regional food system. Producing sufficient volume of products and transportation were the most common challenges cited by respondents,” Bailey explained. “But a large majority of responding producers are interested in expanding their local food production capacity and a majority are interested in participating in a regional food system.”

“Our survey data paints a clear picture that the prevailing attitudes among consumers, producers and institutions toward the growth of local and regional food systems are overwhelmingly positive,” concluded Bailey. “And while real challenges exist there is also real opportunity and a desire among all parties to meet those challenges.”