Food System 101

Our FOOD SYSTEM consists of four major sectors:

Production: Farms, including any enterprise that raise or grows and sells food (for human consumption) or feed (for animal consumption).
According to the USDA’s 2007 census of agriculture there are about 1,000 farms in Oneida County; just under half of those have estimated annual gross sales revenues of $10,000 or more. For this project, we will attempt to catalog all of these farms, but must certainly capture those that produce sales adequate to provide a significant portion of a family’s income. Note: A subset exists of farms that are not part of the food system, including equine (horse) farms and fiber producers (e.g., alpaca farms).

Processing: Any enterprise that takes farm (food or feed) products and physically modifies them prior to their eventual consumption.
Processing activities may include: disassembly, assembly, cooking, freezing, grinding, cutting, combining, packaging, wrapping or canning. Businesses in the processing sector may purchase farm products and sell the final processed products on their own account; or they may charge a fee for their services without taking ownership of the products being processed. Typically businesses in this sector do not sell the processed products directly to the end-consumer.

Distribution: Any enterprise that transports, stores, markets, or otherwise handles farm (food or feed) products after it leaves the farm but before it reaches the end-consumer.
This sector may include resellers, but does not include retailers who sell to the end-consumer.

Consumption*: Any enterprise that sells, facilitates the sale of, or makes available at no cost food products to the end-consumer.
The consumption sector includes retail stores and restaurants; however, this category of enterprises is too numerous and varied to be individually identified for this project.

* For purposes of this project, the “Food System” is defined to include enterprises, encompassing both for-profit and not-for-profit entities. It does not include individual consumers, even though obviously there would be no need for a food system if there were no consumers.

In addition to production, processing, distribution and consumption, the Food System depends for its ongoing and sustainable functioning on the following local enterprises:

Food system waste handling: Any enterprise that collects, transports, composts, buries, or recycles o otherwise disposes of the waste produced by any sector of the food system.
Of particular importance to this project are enterprises that handle animal wastes; enterprises that recycle agricultural plastics and chemicals; enterprises that can process wastes from food processing; and enterprises that handle household, restaurant, retail and institutional food waste streams.

Farm production input providers: Any enterprise that specializes in, or for which a significant activity includes, providing physical inputs essential to the successful production of farm (food and feed) products.
Although not strictly “enterprises”, farm landowners - non-farmers who make their land available to farmer, whether through formal or informal leases or simply in exchange for perceived benefits (keeping the land from growing up to brush), contribute essential physical inputs (land) to the food system. According to USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture, over 21% of farmland in New York State is rented from someone other than the farmer.

Farm production service providers: Any enterprise that specializes in, or for which a significant activity includes, providing services essential to the successful production of farm (food and feed) products.
Farm laborers, while not strictly “enterprises”, provide essential services to the food system and are included here.

Farm business service providers: Any enterprise that specializes in, or for which a significant activity includes, providing services essential to the successful management of a farm business.

Agencies: Any federal, state, county, or municipal agency that specializes in, or for which a significant activity includes, the regulation of food system enterprises, or the provision of services or funds to food system enterprises.

Clubs and associations: Any not-for-profit membership enterprise whose primary purpose is the promotion of the interests of farms or farmers, or for the promotion of a viable food system.

Academic institutions: Any enterprise that specializes in, or for which a significant activity includes, the education of farmers or the education of consumers, government officials, or other members of the public about the food system.