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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 White Papers

CDFA is producing six in-depth white papers that define how traditional development finance tools can be used to demonstrate the viability of the food system as an asset class. The first white paper is an overview of development finance with an explanation of why and how these tools can be applied to the food system. The next four white papers will provide an extensive description of development finance tools that can be employed for food-related projects – access to capital, bedrock tools, targeted tools, and investment tools – alongside comprehensive case studies that successfully utilize each of these tools. The final white paper will conceptualize the future possibilities of the food system financing landscape.

-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.

King County, WA
CDFA is partnering with King County, WA with the goal of using development finance tools in order to finance a food processing and distribution hub in King County, WA.
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Pennsylvania & The Food Trust
CDFA is partnering with The Food Trust with the goal of using development finance tools to help build the food system in Pennsylvania.
Learn More

Rhode Island Food Policy Council
CDFA is partnering with the Rhode Island Food Policy Council with the goal of using one or more traditional finance tools in order to finance a food processing and distribution facility.
Learn More

-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:
  • Rosanne Albright, City of Phoenix
  • David Armstrong, GreenStone Farm Credit Services
  • Elizabeth Atwell, Wallace Center at Winlock International
  • Jim Barham, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
  • David Beck, Self-Help Credit Union
  • Keith Bisson, CEI Capital Management
  • Ellie Bomstein, Wallace Center at Winlock International
  • Matthew Brown, Franklin County Economic Development and Planning
  • Joseph Bute, Food 21
  • Laura Canter, MassDevelopment
  • Mike Catsi, Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority
  • Jean Chorazyczewski, Fair Food Network
  • Virginia Clark, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders
  • Rodger Cooley, Chicago Food Policy Action Council
  • Bea Covington, King Conservation District
  • Tim Crosby, Cascadia Foodshed Financing Project
  • Eric DeLuca, Leverage Point Consulting
  • Linda Jo Doctor, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Bridget Dobrowski, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders
  • Tim Dolan, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority
  • Mary Donnell, Capital Impact Partners
  • Andrew Dumont, Federal Reserve Board
  • Emilie Engelhard, Fair Food Network
  • Brian Estabrook, Franklin County Economic Development and Planning
  • Patrick Evans, Illinois Finance Authority
  • Jen Faigel, CommonWealth Kitchen
  • John Fisk, Wallace Center at Winrock International
  • Devin Foote, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Amy Goode, Food Equality Initiative
  • Drew Hammond, U.S. Bank
  • Gray Harris, CEI Capital Management
  • Caroline Harries, The Food Trust
  • Oran Hesterman, Fair Food Network
  • Bob Heuer, Heuer & Associates
  • Haile Johnston, The Common Market
  • Ben Kerrick, Karen Karp & Partners
  • Ryan Kozak, The Huntington Investment Company
  • David LeZaks, Delta Institute
  • Alex Linkow, Fair Food Network
  • Michael Lufkin, King County, WA
  • Lori Matheus, New Jersey Economic Development Authority
  • Gary Matteson, The Farm Credit Council
  • John Mitterholzer, George Gund Foundation
  • TJ Moen, The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
  • Luis Nieves-Ruiz, East Central Florida Regional Planning Council
  • Kamaryn Norris, The Food Trust
  • Donna Leuchten Nuccio, Reinvestment Fund
  • Jenny Osman, New York City Economic Development Corporation
  • Rich Pirog, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
  • Jamie Rahrig, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
  • Nessa Richman, Rhode Island Food Policy Council
  • Brian Snyder, Ohio State University
  • Meredith Storton, RSF Social Finance
  • Cam Turner, United Fund Advisors
  • Adam Utley, Organic Business Capital Fund
  • Jazmin Varela, The Conservation Fund
  • Barbara Vohryzek, National Association of Development Companies
  • Dafina Williams, Opportunity Finance Network

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.