3rd Annual Skagit Ag Summit

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Main News Photo

EDASC's Director of Business Retention and Expansion Andrew Miller was recently given the opportunity to provide data and insight regarding the changing face of consumer interest in agriculture and value-added food as well as how those market changes and consumer interests may create economic opportunity for local farms and ag-based businesses at the 3rd Annual Skagit Ag Summit on February 16.

Approximately 120 Skagit County and regional farmers, policy makers, and other ag and food stakeholders gathered at the day-long summit held at the WSU Research Center nestled in the farmlands west of Mount Vernon to hear ideas and to discuss challenges and opportunities related to farming in Skagit County. Miller’s presentation centered on the unique opportunity that Skagit County has to “orient to the opportunity” in terms of creating and telling an “authentic food and farm story” that is consistent with the changing consumer preferences and best practices in food marketing.

He also shared thoughts on how the emerging local food movement has created an alternative “ag of the middle” agronomic framework that sits between global conventional commodity-based production and farmers markets as a model for capturing and keeping more of the consumer dollar in local growers’ hands. This model requires  shared processing infrastructure, logistics, and marketing efforts but is already working for local companies like Skagit Valley Malting and Cairnsprings Mill.

According to Miller, “we live half-way between two of the hottest economies in North America, full of people who want to eat local and want to know more about where their food comes from, how it’s grown and processed, and who ‘their’ farmers are. We often look at the creeping pressures of being so close to urban areas as a threat to the ag and food industry but we also need to be fully aware of and position ourselves for the economic opportunity this proximity can create.” 

This was Miller’s second year presenting at the Skagit Ag Summit. His full presentation can be found here.

Category: Value-Added Agriculture