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Supply Chains Study

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FIU is working to ensure people can work and eat despite climatic and logistical challenges.

With support from The Walmart Foundation, researchers in FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education and the College of Business will conduct a thorough assessment of Florida’s tomato and strawberry production systems. They will evaluate the entire supply chain — from farmer to processor, distributor, retailer and consumer — to identify what works, what doesn’t, and why.

Why FIU?

FIU's Agroecology Program is a nationally acclaimed comprehensive agriculture teaching, research and outreach program with a focus on veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers, migrant workers and minority students. This project will leverage a strong interdisciplinary team to evaluate supply chains, and analyze market-driven acceptance of sustainable certification options from environmental and social perspectives. Our research team will offer environmentally sustainable and ethically responsible management strategies to help these industries and their workforce adapt.

Strawberries growing in a field

Objectives

  • 1. Farm Production and Sustainability Study

    Conduct a study of current farm production, environmental, and social sustainability landscape of Florida tomato and strawberry production: We realize that Florida growers are operating under increasing pressures of environmental regulations, international competition, labor welfare requirements, and consumer demand for environmental and social sustainability. We want to work with farmers, farmworkers and other stakeholders in major tomato-growing counties including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Collier. 

  • 2. Climate Analysis

    Analyze future climate scenarios and develop sustainability implications: We recognize that future climate changes will likely influence rainfall, temperature, sea level rise potential and salinity conditions in Florida. These changes could intensify drought, flood, and pest and disease infestation, forcing farmers and farm workers to adopt new practices. Using these key environmental projection parameters and a plant growth model, we will estimate the influences of various climate scenarios. This model will help us to assess climate changes' impact on the production of tomato and strawberry, as well as to identify adaptations necessary to sustain production.

  • 3. Supply Chain Maps

    Develop tomato and strawberry supply chain maps: FIU will conduct a thorough analysis of market players' business models for homegrown and imported tomato and strawberry production.  This analysis will develop supply chain maps (including logistical maps for the United States and Mexico); review commercialization agreements (pricing, volumes, product specifications, etc.); identify attendant disparity in market competition between retailers of domestic-grown, certified commodity and of imported, non-certified commodity; and assess revenue/margin expectations for stakeholders in the supply chain.

  • 4. Product Certification Evaluation

    Evaluate tomato and strawberry production certification systems: We note that there are a number of popular agricultural certification programs, including but not limited to Fair Food Certified (FFC), Sunripe Certified (SRC), and USDA Organic Certified (UOC).  In the context of climate readiness and ethical attention, we will conduct a thorough review of the standards, how they are implemented and verified, the extent of their market coverage, and their cost implications for different supply chain players including farmers and farm workers.

  • 5. Certification or Assurance Blueprint

    Develop blueprint for ecologically sustainable, ethically responsible certification or assurance program systems: The results of our study will improve our understanding of the current production/environmental/labor welfare challenges, determine best practices and areas for improvement, and help all stakeholders work together to prepare for future sustainability within the industry.

Workers in a field

Join In The Project

FIU will invite key stakeholders from farm organizations, governments, agriculture wholesale and retail sectors to a focus group meeting to reflect on study findings and provide feedback on how to make the supply chain more sustainable. We invite experts and all industry stakeholders to get involved during the course of this study and participate in this symposium.

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