Local Foods Resource Page

Grade A Gardens

Supporting Farmer-Led Efforts to Promote and Expand Local & Regional Food Systems

We can build a vibrant & resilient farm & food economy in Iowa by pursuing food sovereignty, investing in diversified family farms, and developing local, farmer-owned marketing & processing.

  • Direct-to-consumer food sales generate over $320 million a year for Iowa farms.
  • If Iowa farmers met just half the existing demand for locally grown food, it would create $1.67 billion in annual sales and support 12,000 Iowa jobs.
  • Food crops are a vital entry point for the thousands of new farmers needed to replace retiring farmers.
  • Better access to fresh local produce improves nutrition & health outcomes for Iowa families.

As Iowa’s local and regional food systems continue to grow and become more established, Iowa farmers growing for local markets would benefit from expanded resources to help them innovate, grow and take local food production to the next level.


In the 2015-2016 legislative session, IFU promoted legislation (HF 427; SSB 3142) to establish programs for the benefit of small farms producing fruit and vegetables, nuts, horticulture, floriculture and nursery crops, livestock and dairy for local and regional markets, including:

  • A small farm operator financial assistance program for small farms to expand or improve an existing farm or engage in cooperative marketing or processing ventures with other small farms;
  • A small farm operator marketing and processing program to expand processing and promote new markets for specialty crops, livestock and dairy produced by small farms; and
  • A state purchasing preference for specialty crops, livestock and dairy produced by small farms.

Programs to support family farms growing for local & regional markets would provide significant benefits for Iowa farmers and consumers, including:

  • Creating important economic opportunities for beginning family farmers and rural businesses;
  • Decreasing Iowa’s dependence on imported food;
  • Increasing the availability of fresh produce in Iowa and improving nutrition and health outcomes; and
  • Improving the resilience of Iowa farms by promoting investment in more diversified operations.

Our local foods legislation received hearings with House & Senate Economic Growth subcommittees, but no further action was taken prior to the end of session.

You can read IFU written testimony in support of our local foods bill here.


Iowa Farmers Union
PO Box 1883 Ames, IA 50010-1883