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Workshop to explore transportation innovations for regional food systems

Moving food from rural areas to large metropolitan regions is an expensive proposition. People across the supply chain, from regional shippers and distributors to planners and food activists, are looking for ways to reduce costs and increase efficiencies while meeting growing consumer demand for regionally-produced food.

“As cities evolve into megacities, like Chicago, traffic congestion makes it more expensive to move products from rural areas into the city. Farmer-shippers from Wisconsin, for instance, are looking for better ways to reach Chicago consumers with local foods and beverages, ways that are more efficient and also help reduce the carbon footprint,” says Michelle Miller, associate director of the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS).

As part of a broader effort to find solutions, CIAS is hosting a workshop on business innovations in regional food freight systems on Jan. 5 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. in downtown Chicago. This workshop, which is intended for anyone who wishes to consider systemic improvements to how food is moved from rural to urban areas, will take place at the office of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in the Willis Tower, located at 233 South Wacker Drive.

The CIAS-led workshop is being hosted in conjunction with the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service’s Transportation Division and CMAP.

The speaker list features business leaders and innovators in greening food supply chains. Participants include individuals who will describe specific success stories from eastern Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Madison. They include:

  • Larry Alsum, owner and CEO of Alsum Farms & Produce
  • Barbara Daly, quality assurance and food safety manager for Testa Produce
  • Cynthia Haskins, manager of business development and compliance for the Illinois Farm Bureau
  • Rebecca Kemble, worker-owner at Union Cab Cooperative
  • Sarah Lloyd, director of development for the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative
  • Rob Reich, senior vice president of equipment, maintenance and driver recruiting at Schneider trucking company
  • Mike Roeth, executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency
  • Ryan Schone, local food systems educator with University of Wisconsin-Extension

“We’re excited to see business leaders in food supply chains roll up their sleeves and think together with city planners and academics about ways to improve supply chains,” says Miller, who helped organize the workshop and manages a number of food systems sustainability projects for CIAS, including the center’s regional food freight project.

For more information about the Chicago workshop, go to

If you have questions, contact Michelle Miller at or (608) 262-7135.