Center Research

As a regional research hub, the Northeast Center leads or supports several funded projects, in addition to administering occasional small-grants programs.

Current Center-Led Projects

Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast (EFSNE)
This USDA-Funded Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) project is studying whether greater reliance on regionally produced foods could improve food access and affordability for disadvantaged communities, while also benefiting farmers and others in the food supply chain. The project brings together researchers, educators, entrepreneurs, and community leaders from a twelve-state region in the Northeast to shed new light on how the food system can better serve all Americans.

AMS Grant Writing Workshops and Technical Assistance (AMSTA)
Launched in 2014, this project funded by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and National Institutes of Food and Agriculture shares knowledge through in-person grant writing workshops, as well as additional tools and materials provided through the AMSTA website. In Phase I, 137 state trainings focusing on effective grant-writing practices, with an emphasis on USDA’s Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs, were were held in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, reaching more than 3,000 participants. Now in Phase II, the program is being re-offered in states identified by the USDA as highest priority.

AMS Local Food Resource Mapping Project (USDA AMS and NIFA)
This complex project is well under way with a team of collaborators having planned and implemented focus groups in six states (NC, KY, MI, AR, AL, AZ). The team is also in the process of sub-contracting with MarketMaker to supply the essential mapping functions of the project for now and for the future.

Current Projects with Partners

Linking Health Care Reform and Economic Development in the Agriculture Sector (VT)
Researchers and Extension professionals are exploring how health insurance decisions affect farm and ranch families. Activities include interviewing farmers, hosting webinars, analyzing policy impacts, and developing tools for professionals who work with farm families.

Enhancing the Viability of Underserved Small Farms and Rural Communities Using Insights from Emerging Network Science
The Northeast Center brought together partners including Delaware State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Tennessee State University for a competitive USDA capacity building grant. This project will provide the opportunity to expand networks for small farmers in Tennessee, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. This project team has produced a substantial training manual for Extension Educators who wish to conduct their own network analyses of farmer groups. Once finalized, it will be made available online. 

Assessing the Supplier Role of Selected Fresh Produce Value Chains in the United States (USDA ARS)
This project embeds economies of scale concepts into experimental models to identify the optimal locations for distribution facilities such that small and mid-sized farms can access retail, institutional, and commercial markets. Project team members have been refining the model and disahgregating annual production data to accomplish project goals.

eXtension Community of Practice: Local, Regional, and Community Food Systems
The Northeast Center collaborated with faculty and educators across the nation in the development of an eXtension Community of Practice (CoP) in the area of local and regional food systems development. It shares models, findings, best practices, challenges, conceptual frameworks and data. It is increasing awareness about regional food systems, and is enhancing the ability for Extension personnel to contribute to their development.

Impacts of Multifunctional Operations on Long-Term Sustainability and Prosperity of Small and Medium Sized Farms and Rural Communities
The Northeast Center brought together partners including University of Vermont and the USDA Economic Research Service for an AFRI Foundational Grant. The purpose of this project is to study small and medium-sized farms involved in multifunctional operations in the U.S., with an emphasis on the New England region. Multifunctional farm operations are hypothesized to enhance the long term sustainability and prosperity both of farmers and their rural communities.

Center-funded Projects

In 2016, the Northeast Center announced an award program to support data access and research in rural business innovation and economic development. Researchers from the three funded projects will present their findings at the 2017 What Works in Rural Innovation conference. This program was supported by a grant from the USDA Economic Research Service.

In 2015, the Northeast Center issued an RFP for "Regional Collaboration of Successful CRD Extension Programs Planning Grant." Two proposals were selected to receive funding:

Past Projects

National Agricultural and Rural Development Policy Center (NARDeP)
The National Agricultural & Rural Development Policy Center is organized by the Regional Rural Development Centers to provide information about the increasingly contentious and complex agricultural and rural development U.S. policy issues. Current signature areas are energy and the environment, food systems development, and self-employment and entrepreneurship.

Bringing Research and Communities Together to Advance a Regional Food Systems Project (USDA/NIFA)
In addition to organizing a highly successful national end-of-project conference for the EFSNE project in 2015, this grant allowed team members to organize community events aimed at extending the project’s scholarship into five of the project communities.

Demographic Dimensions of Diversity
(Relevant for Extension Educators) This section lists basic demographic variables related to diversity that are relevant for Extension educators, discusses why the variables are important, and provides links to data sources for the different variables at different levels of geographic detail. Data are available at the state, county and sub-county levels, such as the Census tract level. Most of the data are also available at different points in time, allowing basic trends to be identified.

Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce, is a type of industry where buying and selling of product or service is conducted over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks.