The USDA has released a report which provides a comprehensive look at the economic role, challenges and opportunities for food hubs in the nation's growing local food movement.

"At USDA we are committed to food hubs because we believe that they offer strong and sound infrastructure support to producers across the country which will also help build stronger regional food systems," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "This report is an important addition to the ongoing research in this field."

The new report is titled The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food Marketing. With an increasing demand for fresh, local, foods, the report finds that the success of food hubs is rapidly expanding, with well over 200 food hubs now operating in the United States. They are a part of a distribution system designed to move locally produced food into mainstream markets by supplying chains for goods to go from farms to the table efficiently.

USDA's working definition of a regional food hub is "a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand".

More information about USDA's work on food hubs is available here.