Moving grains from farms to tables is a group effort. We work on strengthening the Midwest grain economy through five member-led Working Groups, and facilitate information sharing, organize gatherings, and offer support and connection for regional grain chain farms, businesses, and allied organizations.
In March 2020, AGC launched an initiative to secure the local grain chain and support the regional emergency feeding system during the pandemic. Neighbor Loaves are made by bakers, bakeries, and other food businesses using at least 50% locally grown and milled flour. Consumers and other donors buy the bread at full retail cost, supporting regional farms, mills, and bakers. The loaves go to food pantries and community feeding organizations, which continue to be hard hit by ongoing economic issues resulting from the pandemic, and make their way to those who need bread.Learn More
Jas McDaniel Photography - Madison Sourdough
For the past several years, AGC has been working to connect the research community, farmers, millers, and bakers to test small grain varieties to find those optimized for baking end-uses. The newest iteration of this project is funded through a USDA OREI grant (2020-2023). In partnership with Dr. Julie Dawson and the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative housed at UW-Madison, the team at the University of Illinois Food Science Pilot Processing Plant, and farmers, millers, and bakers, we are working to help identify seeds that work well for both farmers and bakers.Learn More
Institutions like schools, hospitals, and business campuses represent a largely untapped market opportunity for local grain consumption. A USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant (2020-2023) awarded to AGC in partnership with UW-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) seeks to connect grain producers across the Upper Midwest with Wisconsin institutions. Resources created through this project will accelerate procurement of local grains and build staple crops into existing farm to institution efforts.
AGC members Cow Creek Farm and Silver Tree Beer & Spirits are working with the University of Illinois Food Science Pilot Processing Plant through a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant to test distillation performance of five heritage, open-pollinated corn varieties. Yellow #2 dent corn is most commonly used for distilling, but other cultivars offer alternative market niches and farm diversification opportunities. This work will begin to develop an understanding of the flavor composition and alcohol conversion of these distinct varieties.Learn More
In April 2021, AGC member Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) published a three-part series on food-grade grains for their MOSES Organic Podcast. Education & Outreach Working Group coordinator Amy Halloran recorded conversations with several AGC member farmers, millers, and researchers to create the series. Episodes include: Behind the Seeds, Diversifying Crop Rotations, and On-Farm Milling.
Developed in partnership with the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, this resource can help grain value chain businesses identify which Food Safety Modernization Act Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule requirements apply to their particular operations and assist them in understanding what they need to do to comply as they work to build local and regional food systems.
The guide includes: key terms — a flowchart to help farms and businesses determine which regulatory entity category they fall into — compliance information specific to farms processing facilities, retail food establishments, and restaurants that grow, process, store, and handle grains — a discussion of how particular activities fit within the rule to help producers understand if and how their activities make them subject to it.
These member-led vehicles for community building convene and support members to help illustrate, contextualize, and connect their work with others across the region. Working Groups meet virtually to tackle pressing issues relevant to the development of our grainshed. Want to join a Working Group? Apply to become an AGC member here.
Creates outreach opportunities and materials about what small grains and other staple crops are, why they matter in environmentally sound agriculture, and how to use them
Connects the different facets of the grain chain into a cohesive story
Strengthens the regional grain chain by illuminating the individuals and entities fostering grain relationships
Invites people to step into the grain chain through social media, newsletters, and public conversations
Ensures research questions and information gathered are relevant, timely, and necessary
Investigates the compositional and functional qualities of diverse grain varieties
Explores the practical questions of seed variety performance and functionality
Brings people together to understand grains in professional contexts, such as through variety trial bake tests
Offers a relationship-building community for farmers producing diverse small grains and other food-grade staple crops in the region
Solicits farmer input for project work that will strengthen grain production and marketing opportunities
Connects grain farmers with resources that increase economic, agronomic, and social resilience
Fosters peer-to-peer education among farmers
Connects entities working across the Upper Midwest beverage supply chain to promote collaboration
Invites speakers to share research, such as grain breeding efforts, as it relates to malting, brewing, distilling, and upcycling
Fosters efforts to expand consumer understanding of local beer and spirits as agricultural products with the potential to be grown and processed locally
Provides support, communication opportunities, and resources for farmers, maltsters, brewers, distillers, and upcyclers
Expands the utilization of grains in institutional settings
Connects schools, hospitals, colleges, businesses campuses, correctional facilities, and others to farmers and processors
Develops resources and engagement opportunities to support farmers in selling and and institutional chefs in using diverse staple crops
Seeks creative bridges between regional grains and wholesale purchasers