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CDFA Defining the Food System Asset Class

With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, CDFA is researching how DFA’s can become more engaged in developing localized food systems through traditional finance approaches such as bonds, tax increment finance, tax credits, and revolving loan funds. The premise of this project is to suggest and then prove that, if organized and defined properly, the food system can become a defined asset class worthy of traditional investment.

View the Press Release

CDFA sees the potential for the broadly defined food system to become a desired and performance driven asset class. Through collaboration between food system participants and development finance agencies, new investments can be catalyzed that will drive the creation of this asset class. The opportunity to link food and development finance has vast potential, including using traditional financing tools such as bonds for non-profits, food hubs, and farm expansions, as well as tax increment finance for food industry industrial parks, neighborhood revitalization, or early stage financing models for entrepreneurs and food technology based businesses. Deploying these tools will help to build the necessary data sets, impact metrics and portfolio performance measures to prove an asset class.

Key project elements include:

-Food Systems Finance Overview

CDFA knows that there is great potential for a broadly defined food system to become a desired and performance driven asset class. Read CDFA's Food Systems & Development Finance overview for an in-depth review.

Read CDFA's Food Systems & Development Finance Overview

-Food Systems Finance Resource Center

CDFA's Food Systems Finance Resource Center hosts a vast collection of food systems finance resources including presentations, best practices, financing programs, case studies and archives of learning materials from webinars and training sessions.

Learn More

-Food Systems Finance Case Studies

CDFA is producing six in-depth case studies of how traditional development finance tools can demonstrate the viability of the food systems as an asset class. These will be released periodically over the grant period.

-Food Systems Finance Pilot Projects

CDFA is developing pilot projects in regions that present strong food system efforts but that lack direct and traditional development finance contributions. More information will be coming soon regarding these projects.

-Food Systems Finance Advisory Council (FSFAC)

CDFA is hosting regular, ongoing and substantive convenings of CDFA’s Food Systems Finance Advisory Council (FSFAC) over the grant period to establish this cohort within both the food and finance industries. All active members of CDFA's FSFAC are listed below:
  • David Armstrong, GreenStone Farm Credit Services
  • Jim Barham, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
  • David Beck, Self-Help Credit Union
  • Deborah Bentzel, The Food Trust
  • Matthew Brown, Franklin County Economic Development and Planning
  • Laura Canter, MassDevelopment
  • Mike Catsi, Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority
  • Virginia Clark, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders
  • Bea Covington, King Conservation District
  • Tim Crosby, Cascadia Foodshed Financing Project
  • Bridget Dobrowski, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders
  • Tim Dolan, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority
  • Mary Donnell, Capital Impact Partners
  • Andrew Dumont, Federal Reserve Board
  • Brian Estabrook, Franklin County Economic Development and Planning
  • Patrick Evans, Illinois Finance Authority
  • John Fisk, Wallace Center at Winrock International
  • Will Gray, Wallace Center at Winrock International
  • Caroline Harries, The Food Trust
  • Oran Hesterman, Fair Food Network
  • Bob Heuer, Heuer & Associates
  • Heather Jamerson, Pyramid Peak Foundation
  • Ryan Kozak, The Huntington Investment Company
  • David LeZaks, Delta Institute
  • Michael Lufkin, King County, WA
  • Gary Matteson, The Farm Credit Council
  • John Mitterholzer, George Gund Foundation
  • Donna Leuchten Nuccio, Reinvestment Fund
  • Rich Pirog, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
  • Nessa Richman, Rhode Island Food Policy Council
  • Steve Saltzman, Self-Help Credit Union
  • Meredith Storton, RSF Social Finance
  • Cam Turner, United Fund Advisors
  • Jazmin Varela, The Conservation Fund

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The CDFA Defining the Food System as an Asset Class project was prepared by the Council of Development Finance Agencies using grant funds under award P0130858 from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.