UCSC to support new regional food business center as part of national initiative

The Center for Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz.
(Via Center for Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is enlisting regional partners in its efforts to help small and midsize farming operations, socially disadvantaged farmers and traditionally underserved populations, and a team from UCSC’s Center for Agroecology is on board.

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The Center for Agroecology at UC Santa Cruz will assist a new federal program focused on creating opportunities for small and midsize farming operations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with regional partners to establish 12 regional food business centers that will “provide national coverage coordination, technical assistance and capacity building to help farmers, ranchers and other food businesses access new markets and navigate federal, state and local resources,” according to the federal agency.

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) is leading the charge for the Southwest region, which will serve California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada. UCSC’s Center for Agroecology has been tapped to help, with a focus on 13 counties in the North Bay and on the Central Coast, according to Tim Galarneau, an education and research specialist there.

The center will be assisting with everything from providing bilingual training resources, to helping small farmers navigate regulations and gain access to available financial resources, to connecting small and midsize producers with wholesalers and distributors. The efforts will be aimed largely at socially disadvantaged farmers and traditionally underserved populations, Galarneau added.

Galarneau and his team will also be working with other regional and subregional food business center leads on policies and resource sharing. The Southwest center will officially kick off July 1, and Galarneau said he’s actively recruiting full-time farm-to-institution specialists to work with him.

“We [plan to] walk forward in this journey with a lot of intention,” said Galarneau.


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