City of Seattle Food Access Spending Farm Economy Analysis Report

A study measuring the economic impact of City of Seattle spending on food access programs on local farmers. The purpose of this report is to measure the economic impact of City of Seattle spending on food access programs on local farmers, and on the local farm economy. Read more about the project.

Key Findings

We found a net positive range of economic activity in the State of Washington and in King County as a result of City of Seattle spending on food access programs. We additionally found that farmers felt positively about these programs, and reported many benefits of participation, as well as opportunities for program improvement.

Every dollar received by Washington farmers via sales to food access programs created at least $1.70 in economic activity in the State of Washington, or at least $763,160 total Washington economic impact.

Confining our analysis to King County economic impacts, we found that every dollar in purchases from King County farmers resulted in at least $1.40 in economic activity in King County, and may produce up to $1.80 in economic activity in the county, for a total King County economic impact range of $272,618 to $373,049.

Food access program investments resulted in a gain of at least 7.40 jobs in Washington, 4 of these in King County.

Key themes that emerged from farmer interviews indicated that farmers who sold products to the food access programs benefited from increased market access, predictability in sales that enhanced their crop planning activities, and supplementary services such as transportation provided by food access program organizations.

These results can be viewed in conjunction with other economic impact studies of local food initiatives, including Farm to School and farmers markets. Like previous studies, we found that the benefit of government spending on local foods extends beyond the consumers who receive healthy, local foods at a reduced price and the farmers who sell those foods, to the broader economy. We add to this body of work with our farmer interviews, which demonstrated that food access program spending has the potential effect of strengthening the local food system by increasing the sustainability and profitability of the farmers in this system. We suggest that further impact studies should go beyond investigating contemporaneous economic benefits to considering the ways in which these benefits persist in the long run by strengthening local food systems.


Publication Date: September 6, 2019

Author(s): Melissa Knox, Lina Pinero Walkinshaw

Resource Type(s):

Research Area(s):