Agriculture, the Northeast-Midwest region's largest single industry, contributes tens of billions of dollars in revenue to our economy each year (and billions more in total economic impact); and it has earned the region a worldwide reputation for quality. With some of the richest farmland in the country, the Northeast-Miwest region offers some of the highest quality agricultural products available worldwide, including: produce, dairy, commodities, meats, nursery products and hardwood goods.
However, states within the region have been losing hundreds of acres of farmland each day, as other land use demands come up against an aging farmer demographic, and inflating costs of keeping agricultural land productive in a sustainable fashion. This despite the fact that the region has been a consistent source over the decades of many innovative practices in the areas of agricultural production and marketing, resource conservation, food distribution, and food assistance.
The Institute takes a systems approach to farm and food policy by actively developing policy recommendations that build links between producers and consumers. We focus on sustainable agriculture and water quality protection, while seeking to develop sustainable farm practices that provide adequate income to farmers and provide access to healthy food for low-income urban, rural, and tribal residents. The goal of this work is to advance a more equitable and sustainable farm and food sector. Toward that end, the Institute works closely with members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and the Northeast-Midwest Coalitions, as well as staff from Federal and state agriculture agencies.
During the 2012 Farm Bill debate and deliberation, the Institute has served as coordinator of the efforts of a nonprofit agricultural conservation collaborative and has worked with stakeholders in the region to advance policies that facilitate sustainable agricultural production while maintaining and restoring the natural resources upon which that production depends: land, water and biological diversity.