This profile was developed in 2007 as part of the Sustainable Food Policy Project.

Woodbury County

Documents

Local Food Purchase Policy
Organics Conversion Policy

Food Service
Contracted

Language type
Specific parameters for purchases of local organic food

Background and Vision
Woodbury County currently provides food for the Woodbury County Jail, Work Release Center, and Juvenile Detention facilities.  The “Local Food Purchase Policy” mandates that the county’s food service contractor purchase locally grown organic food, and transitional organic food, when available.  The preamble states that the policy is “intended to increase regional per capita income, provide incentives for job creation, attract economic investment, and promote the health and safety of its citizens and communities.”

Definitions
The policy specifies USDA organic standards, but will accept food from local farmers that are converting to organic methods (transitional).  Local is defined as “food that is grown and processed within a 100-mile radius of the Woodbury County courthouse”. 

Sourcing
The policy stipulates that local organic food must be sourced from a “single-point-of-contact broker,” identified as the Woodbury Farm Foods Cooperative. 

This Cooperative, a privately operated entity, was identified by Woodbury County in order to create a centralized source for local organic foods.  This single-point-of-contact broker serves as the liaison between farmers and the institution, providing an ordering and distribution system that institutions need and small farmers often cannot provide. 

The “Local Food Purchase Policy” advocates adjusting menus to accommodate supply of local organic food.  When the Cooperative cannot meet the contactor’s needs, the policy instructs the contractor to source through its traditional channels.
 
Tracking
The purchasing policy stipulates that local food purchases and associated cost increases or decreases will be tracked through quarterly reports produced jointly by the contractor and the cooperative.  The policy also dictates that its effectiveness will be reviewed every 3 months considering food costs, impact with respect to reduction of health care costs and behavioral changes for inmates, as well as benefits such as job creation, and increased markets for local organic products.

Lessons Learned
The local foods purchase policy called for sales to the county to take place beginning in June 2006.  There have been sales of organic apples to Woodbury County; however, supply challenges have held up sales of other organic food items.

Woodbury County has also established an “Organics Conversion Policy” that provides tax incentives to conventional farmers that begin the three-year conversion process to organic certification.  A typical Woodbury farm would get $20 per organic acre, and can receive up to $10,000 in abatements annually for five years, totally $50,000 max.  If the farmer does not complete the conversion process, any property tax refunds must be returned.

To date, five Woodbury County farmers have converted to organic farming practices by reason of the policy.  The larger impact is seen with organic processors now planning to move into the area, a local community college that has established a curriculum in organic farming, and a neighboring county that was inspired to adopt a similar policy – thus establishing a regional approach to rural economic development.