Engaging the private sector
Facilitating private sector innovation
Engaging businesses, including food companies, retailers, agricultural technology providers and investors, in food systems brings valuable expertise and innovation capabilities that are essential for driving sustainable change. Collaborative partnerships between governments, civil society and the private sector can leverage the strengths of each sector to build resilient and inclusive food systems. There are many reasons why it makes sense to partner for innovation.
The private sector is often at the forefront of technological advancements and innovation in agriculture. By collaborating with the private sector actors, we can leverage their expertise to develop and scale up sustainable farming practices, precision agriculture technologies, resilient supply chains and food processing innovations.
Market access and distribution
Private sector involvement can improve market access and distribution networks, particularly for small-scale farmers and producers. Partnerships with food retailers, processors and distributors help connect farmers to lucrative markets, ensuring fair prices and economic opportunities. This can strengthen the resilience and income stability of farmers, contributing to poverty reduction and rural development.
Sustainable sourcing and supply chains
Private sector engagement is critical in promoting sustainable sourcing practices throughout the food supply chain. By working closely with companies, we can encourage responsible sourcing of agricultural commodities, support biodiversity conservation, reduce deforestation and minimize the environmental impact of production, processing and transportation.
Consumer awareness and behavior change
The private sector plays a significant role in shaping consumer behavior through marketing, product development, and communication campaigns. By collaborating with companies, we can encourage the adoption of healthier and more sustainable food choices.
Investment and financing
Impact investors, venture capitalists, and philanthropic organizations can provide funding and support for initiatives focused on sustainable agriculture, food security, and nutrition. This financial engagement through the private sector is vital for driving systemic change and unlocking the potential of sustainable food solutions.
How does the Swette Center engage the private sector?
USDA Grants and Loans Guide for Private Businesses
While the USDA offers many opportunities for funding and support, the Swette Center recognizes that it can be difficult to navigate grant and loan programs, and even more challenging to understand what you are eligible for and how to apply. We created this guide to simplify the process for the business community. It breaks down available grants and loans for private businesses with brief descriptions and hyperlinks to program websites where more can be learned.
Facilitating a cooperative approach to the future of food
Younger generations see economic exclusion, inequality and political divisiveness, and are demanding a greater say in the future of food. Could this be a cooperative moment? What can we learn from an examination of the history and current state of the US cooperative movement, which has been so significant to Rural America?
This event aimed to answer those questions with a timely discussion between experts in cooperative structures. Moderated by Swette Center Executive Director Kathleen Merrigan, this gathering was held in Washington D.C. and featured four speakers: John and Carol Zippert from Cooperative Hall of Famers, Jerry McGeorge from Organic Valley, Sarah Tyree from CoBank and Doug O’Brien from CLUSA International. This panel discussed how cooperatives are poised to play a vital role in shaping the future of food systems. These collaborative and community-based enterprises offer a powerful alternative to conventional models by prioritizing sustainability, fairness and local empowerment.
Related research priorities
Arizona food systems
Being based in Arizona, it’s only natural that supporting our home state’s food system is a top priority for the Swette Center. Arizona’s food system faces unique challenges due to the state’s arid climate and water scarcity. However, Arizona also presents opportunities for innovative approaches to promote sustainable food production and distribution.
Engaging the private sector
Engaging businesses, including food companies, retailers, agricultural technology providers and investors, in food systems brings valuable expertise and innovation capabilities that are essential for driving sustainable change. Collaborative partnerships between governments, civil society and the private sector can leverage the strengths of each sector to build resilient and inclusive food systems.
Empowering Indigenous foodways
Indigenous foodways hold immense importance as they represent the culmination of centuries of wisdom, culture and sustainable practices. They are the embodiment of indigenous communities’ deep connection to their lands, traditional knowledge and ancestral heritage. By preserving and revitalizing indigenous foodways, we aim to honor and celebrate the cultural diversity and resilience of indigenous peoples.