WLFN Strategic Plan

A sub-committee of the Wisconsin Local Food Network Steering Committee developed a draft strategic plan for the network. We are excited about the direction that this strategic plan will take the WLFN. We envision the WLFN as the organization that “engages, connects, and empowers local, regional, and state efforts to build resilient and resotrative food systems.”

In November and December 2011, the sub-committee collected your feedback on the strategic plan draft through a survey. Your input has been very useful, as we move the strategic plan forward. To view a summary of the survey results, please click here: WLFN Strategic plan survey responses 12_14_2011.

In January 2012, many of you gave us valuable feedback at the Local Food Summit. We have incorporated your input. Please download a copy of the current plan here: WLFNstrategicplanFINAL9-13-13.

8 thoughts on “WLFN Strategic Plan

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for requesting input. Here are some thoughts after a quick read of the plan.

    1) No emphasis on organic, sustainable agriculture? Major fault line throughout this Plan.
    2) The first bullet phrase under Vision is creating jobs? Completely disagree.
    3) The first bullet phrase under Purpose is creating jobs? Completely disagree.
    4) Glaring lack of emphasis on environmental protection in the effort to ensure food sovereignty, availability, and affordability at the local level.
    5) Far too much emphasis on State and Regional authority.

    The name says it all: Wisconsin LOCAL FOOD network. That is to say, networking to build LOCAL FOOD systems. Yes, some regional and state coordination and help may be needed, but please do not allow ‘mission drift’ to distract from the core vision, which should be LOCAL FOOD production to sustain communities.

    Finally, there will be no success with this plan if Wisconsin communities continue to increase in population. There should be some acknowledgement of limits to growth, limits of our local resource base, and limits to consumption and economic activity.

    Would be willing to have a more detailed discussion on theses points if there’s interest. Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

  2. Looks good to me. Good luck on all of your good work. Bob Beezat, Board President of SEED – Sustainable Edible Economic Development, Inc. in Kenosha and Racine Counties

  3. Nice start! But I agree with David’s comment that there should really be a focus on organic, sustainable agriculture as part of the local/regional effort. Local food production via conventional means, with no focus on the use of organic methods to ensure environmental sustainability and the continued health of the agricultural system (i.e. soil, land, water, etc), is a key MISS in this discussion. Also, in addition to aggregation and distribution, the other key hurdle to consider is regional value-added processing facilities. I did not see processing as a key development point.

  4. Hi All,
    WILF network is off to a great start. But it must be careful. There’s an enormous difference between an organization whose Vision and Purpose is to ‘create jobs’ and an organization that assists in creating ‘local food systems’. Job creation may or may not be the result of creating more ‘local food systems. But it should not be part of the Vision or Purpose of WLFN. It might be a desirable spin-off and consequence but it would be unwise for WLFN to make a commitment to ‘create jobs’ as part of it’s organizational focus.

    Attempting to be (or hinting or hoping to be) an economic development/growth engine for communities by committing to ‘create jobs’, is a distracting and inappropriate part of the strategic plan and is an invitation for business as usual, petro-chemical industrial agriculture practices.

    And the lack of emphasis on organic, sustainable, environmental stewardship in this draft sets the bar far too low for growers, buyers, and communities, and is out of character in the way WLFN has portrayed itself since it was organized.

    With the inevitable decrease in globalization and the necessary increase in localization, communities will look for a blueprint on how to secure healthy food production within the carrying capacity of their local resource base. WILF can play an important role. Let’s not let politics undermine our efforts.

    WLFN is about helping communities create local food systems. Let’s keep our message simple and clear.

  5. Dave,

    In my opinion, the WLFN needs to promote parity prices for farmers. If farmers get paid a “fair wage”, job creation will be an inevitable result. When farmers make money, they spend much of it locally. That helps establish a healthy economy right off the bat.

  6. Hi Chris,
    80 cents of every dollar spent on local food bought directly from farmers stays in the local economy, says John Ikerd and many others. That’s well known and it’s a good thing. But it’s not the point.

    The question is “Should WLFN commit itself, in it’s founding principles, to ‘create jobs’?”

    As I posted earlier, job creation may or may not be a spin-off or consequence of helping communities build a local food system. But making a commitment to ‘create jobs’ as part of the Vision, Purpose, Goals and Objectives makes for a very different organization. Communities already have Chambers of Commerce, Business support groups, and a number of private and public organizations to create jobs and fill the role of economic development and growth engine. There’s no need for another one.

    Moreover, it would unnecessarily distract and detract from the primary purpose of Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN) which should be ‘a Network to create Local Food systems in Wisconsin’. Right? That will be challenging enough. Why get more complicated than that? Let’s use common sense and keep it simple.

    Furthermore, without an emphasis on organic, sustainable, environmental stewardship in local food production – firmly and clearly cemented in the Mission statement, Vision, Purpose, and Goals and Objectives – there are no safeguards and corporate chemical industrial agriculture, even mid-size chemical farmers, may come calling on our ‘job creation’ commitment and try to exert undue influence.

    Requiring the organization to ‘create jobs’ (the current number one priority in Purpose, Vision, Goals and Objectives in this draft plan) would necessarily require it to become a high budget item and resource consuming goal. Why put that kind of stress on a new organization that simply wants to help communities build local food systems? What’s the rationale for the inclusion of ‘creating jobs’ all throughout this strategic plan? (It doesn’t even specify they be agriculture related jobs!) It’s just distracting and unnecessary. But I’d be glad to hear more discussion on this.

    Finally, ‘parity prices’, ‘fair wage’, ‘healthy economy’ are all desirable but more likely to happen if a local food system is established first – which will take hard work, time, energy, and valuable resources. There are enough challenges ahead without the additional and unnecessary goal of ‘job creation’. If WLFN is successful in creating a network of local food systems across the state, it will go a long way in helping farmers and consumers face a difficult economy and an uncertain future.

    As Wendell Berry used to say, ‘Fix agriculture and the rest will fall into place’.

    Thanks Chris, for valuable comments, let’s keep the conversation going on this draft plan. Hope there’s more input from WLFN supporters.

  7. Well, I’m not sure my input is needed, but I’ll give it, anyway.

    I recognize that this is a “top-down” approach, but there are ways of
    presenting a top-down vision where it doesn’t come across quite so
    bureaucratic. As a very small-timey participant in all of this, I have
    a very hard time “owning” or getting enthusiastic about this
    forthcoming Wisc. Local Food Network.

    For example, the steering committee, which will “…have a mix of
    business, government, education and NGO organizations, citizens,
    fundraisers, and farmers…”

    For some reason, I get the sense that the farmers, especially farmers
    doing the work to benefit all the people in this state, will have a
    very diluted presence, and a very quiet voice, in this local food
    network. Suppose these farmers have interests that directly conflict
    with those of the businesspeople, government people (tightly linked
    in turn to the businesspeople), educational and NGOs (also often
    closely tied to business–in ways that go deeply into political
    economy)? Whose interests will trump whose?

    These days I’m much more interested in how we build a working-class
    oriented local food movement, rather than a geographically-based local
    food movement. There are intersections where questions arise. For
    example, “job creation.” Everyone talks about “job creation” today,
    and the goal seems to be getting numbers of jobs logged into
    spreadsheets. What about this question:

    *Will the jobs created in the local food network groups be jobs that
    can sustain the people being employed at a standard of living at least
    above the poverty line in the local area?” For example, take central
    sands area potatoes. Can a person sustain their household on the $10-per-
    hour jobs offered in a potato shed down in Bancroft for a few months
    out of the year, followed by a $10-per-hour gig in a potato-frying
    house after the layoff from the potato shed?

    Among the purposes of the network is listed “promote thriving farms of
    all sizes that offer a diverse array of locally-produced items across
    the state…” This sentence pretends that it’s all a level playing
    field out there. Does a Rosendale Farm(s) with its thousands upon
    thousands of cows putting out megahundredweights of milk, really need
    promoting right along with that Amishman barely scraping by, just
    wishing there was a way to sell his raw milk direct to the customers,
    without interference from the business/government/educational/NGO
    interests (see above)?

    For as long as I’ve been involved in small-time ag, starting with the community farms, collective, and co-op farms of the 1970s, small farmers are really wage-paid laborers with an off-farm job, because the deck is always stacked this way: “Get big, or get out.” The USDA Secy. Vilsack talks about “job creating” in local small towns, to employ small farmers. The Wisc. Technology Council’s Tom Still talks about “Farmshoring” (get it, “off-shoring” low-paid labor back to the USA to take advantage of hard-pressed farmers who need some low-paid off-farm labor to keep from foreclosure.

    When I hear the term “innovation” applied to farming, here’s what I think: “Oh, they’re looking for some new automated technologies to displace more workers. For example, “how can we milk 144 cows simultaneously instead of only 72, so we can lay off some of the farmworkers?”

    I’ll be interested to see what comes out of this process, but my hopes
    are not very high that this is going to elevate the situation of
    thousands of worker/farmers living on the edge in Wisconsin. I sure
    hope you folks don’t come up with some new bureaucracy that the Occupy
    movement is just going to have to Occupy in a few years down the road.

    Bobby Gifford
    Biodiversecity LLC partner
    Occupy Stevens Point, activist

  8. Please consider issuing a statement of support for the change of hemp laws in this state, so we can finally have Wisconsin grown hemp foods.

    Currently, hemp is imported from all over the world, adding too many miles to a nutritious and yummy food.

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