#USA: Growth of local and regional food systems and economic impacts in rural communities
Following the strategic policies and programming of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), over the last 8 years powerful local and regional food systems have been growing in the United States.
Such systems connect consumers with how, where and by whom their food is grown. They create tremendous job opportunities as well as new pathways for rural families to stay on the farm (today, two-thirds of U.S. rural counties have demonstrated job growth and unemployment in rural areas has fallen considerably). The numbers also show that regional food systems increase entrepreneurship in rural communities (both in farming and food-related businesses) and expand food access and choice. Total retail and food services sales in the United States reached an all-time high in 2011 and have continued to set records each year since. In fact, industry estimates show U.S. local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008, and experts anticipate that value to hit $20 billion by 2019.
This demonstrates, once more, that U.S. Geographical Indications products’ represent a tremendous potential and that any improvement of the U.S. certification trademark system – to make it more appealing for small agricultural groups – would be beneficial for American producers.
Meanwhile, within the framework of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), at the end of March, the European Commission published a Paper in GIs as well as an outlined text (Annex I: list of foodstuffs. Annex II: list of spirit names). We note with satisfaction that such approach would provide a solid level of protection for GIs from both sides and is in line with the proposals elaborated by oriGIn over the last 5 years (See: oriGIn Manual American Origin Products: Protecting a Legacy & oriGIn Study Analysis of the Relevant US Legislation for the Protection of GIs & Recommendations for Compromise Solutions on GIs in the TTIP Negotiations).