Call for Papers on Economic Impact

Economics of Local Food Systems:
Best Practices and Innovations in Measurement

Abstract Submission Deadline: November 30, 2017

Completed Paper Submission Deadline: April 5, 2018

For expected publication in fall 2018

Issue Sponsor:


Colorado State University Food Systems, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service

Guest Editors: Jeffrey K. O’Hara and Debra Tropp (USDA AMS), and Becca Jablonski and Dawn Thilmany (CSU)


To provide practitioners and their community partners with methods of assessing the economic outcomes of local food system initiatives, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS) funded the development of an economic impact “toolkit.” The toolkit includes guidance and best practices related to framing a community-based economic assessment process. Topics include generating primary data, analyzing both primary and secondary data, engaging community partners and decision-makers with data-driven evidence and examples, analyzing the economic impacts of local food systems through input-output analysis, estimating the multiplier effects and opportunity costs of local food projects, and tailoring the economic impact analysis program IMPLAN to estimate local food system impacts more accurately. See for more background information.

The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) is soliciting papers from organizations and agencies that have used the USDA AMS economic impact toolkit explicitly and/or the principles articulated in the toolkit to evaluate local food system initiatives in their community, region, or on a national basis. Accepted submissions will be published in a JAFSCD special issue in fall 2018.

Possible Paper Topics

Examples of the types of papers that could be considered include (but are not limited to):

  • Project-specific evaluations in which the author(s) either had direct involvement or were undertaking a third-party systematic evaluation. Examples include:
  • Rigorous case studies that have employed input-output methods to estimate the economic impacts of local food initiatives.
  • Evaluations of the economic impacts of local food projects sponsored by USDA grant and loan programs.
  • Systematic reviews or surveys of the costs and benefits of various methodologies for evaluating local food system initiatives. Examples include:
  • A literature review on costs and benefits of quantitative and qualitative approaches in measuring local food system projects.
  • Identifying optimal strategies in primary data collection in local food systems from the literature and/or through targeted community outreach.
  • A literature review and/or systematic evaluations of existing secondary data sources for local food systems.
  • A survey of local food practitioners who have used IMPLAN.
  • Assessments of the effectiveness in reporting local food economic impact evaluations to different audiences. Such papers should contain objective metrics that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of such studies, although they can also contain some subjective components. Such papers could evaluate the effectiveness of local food impact studies for:
  • Insurance providers and prospective local food funders or investors.
  • Informing policy, program development, or use in other practical applications.
  • Evaluating best practices in community engagement and increasing capacity through local food impact assessments. Such papers should contain objective metrics that can be used for evaluation, although they can also contain some subjective components. Examples of topics include:
  • Evaluation of best practices in undertaking local food economic impact assessments that are collaborative, participatory, and useful for practitioners.
  • Measuring how the capacity to evaluate local food economic activity has changed over the past five years.
  • Measuring or documenting the benefits of establishing a “community of practice” to increase stakeholder capacity in measuring the economic impacts of local food projects.

Submissions Information and Timeline

By November 30, 2017:

If you would like to be considered for the special issue, send a 2-page abstract that includes the paper title, authors, research/outreach/teaching objectives of the paper, and how you expect findings to be used by communities, policymakers, food system organizations, or academics to Jeffrey O’Hara.

By December 20, 2017:

Selected authors will be informed of their invitation to submit a manuscript to the special issue, along with feedback on the initial abstract to consider in writing the paper. Please note that all manuscripts will go through peer review and there is no guarantee that papers by authors invited to submit a manuscript will be published.

By April 5, 2018:

Authors submit completed manuscripts for peer review (earlier submissions are appreciated when possible).

By June 15:

Initial reviews returned to authors for revisions.

By August 10:

Revised papers due for further review and editorial feedback.

By September 14:

Authors notified of final acceptance/rejection editorial decision.

By October 1:

Accepted papers begin to be published and all are published online as they are completed.

Contact Information and Details

In addition, JAFSCD welcomes articles at any time on any subject related to the development aspects of agriculture and food systems.

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