“To market, to market, to buy a fat pig” presumes farmers can afford to get their products to market for sale to enthusiastic customers. In large states like Texas, with many small producers all traveling long distances to sell to regional markets, the costs— in time, fuel, and vehicle maintenance—of getting goods to market make it hard to make a living.
Selling directly to restaurants and grocery stores as opposed to selling to individual consumers at farmers’ markets is one potential solution, but produce, dairy, egg, and meat farmers find it expensive to use logistics companies and the still relatively small volumes mean a lot of smaller Texas farmers have to rely on in-person deliveries.
Now, with the help of an almost $300,000 grant from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, University of Texas at Arlington will try to to come up with collaborative transportation and aggregation solutions, to make delivery easier and cheaper.
“We want to help family farms and ranches figure out how to transport their products to customers throughout their respective regions, but the long-term goal is to connect them and build a network of producers across the state, to leverage regional variations in growing seasons and products. It’s a balance between efficiency and the social aspect of making sure that farmers can thrive and earn a living,” said Caroline Krejci, an assistant professor in the Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Arlington.
Sharing trucks or warehousing spaces would bring down shipping costs, and some Texas producers are already working within their communities to do precisely that. Krejci hopes to work with farmers are already collaborating on food transportation and storage issues to develop best practices and technology that could link producers state wide.
Source: University of Texas at Arlington