You guys have the best ideas! From meetings in 2010-2012, we’ve continued to find ways to open up wholesale markets for food from the Driftless and the Upper Midwest. We took another big step toward making that happen when a group of us spoke with then Madison Mayor Paul Soglin in 2017 about the need for a wholesale cold storage cross dock. Allies within city government, Rebecca Kemble, Satya Conway (elected mayor in 2018), Lindsey Day Farnsworth and Michelle Miller met with him and were pleasantly surprised that he understood the need and helped us think through what it would take for the City of Madison to be a partner in realizing the idea. We spent the next months presenting our proposal to the City Council (see below), mocking up the idea and writing policy language. The result? The City of Madison hired a consultant to write a business plan and impact statement for the facility!
For a quick summary of the report that led to this strategic development, see: https://grow.cals.wisc.edu/deprecated/agriculture/the-road-from-farm-to-market
The local committee and consultants from ACDS met regularly to discuss fast-breaking progress. In a nutshell, we have a great case to make about why a multi-tenant cold storage warehouse will transform local and regional food systems in the Upper Midwest — as of 2019, we knew we could immediately fill 11k pallet positions, such a facility would save at least 160 trips to Chicago, etc.. We had businesses interested in renting space and able to give details on what that space would look like. We had potential sites, interested investors, and a public benefits statement that would form the basis for a B-Corp, or public benefit corporation. Then COVID19 happened.
Despite setbacks from COVID19, by November 2020 the project team picked itself back up, brushed itself off, and moved forward again. The ACDS Madison Terminal Market plan is now available. A small group of entrepreneurs are regularly meeting with DATCP and others to use the findings of the report — to improve market information flow, improve the physical movement of food, especially perishables, and improve logistics into the region. We are concerned for independent grocers and restaurants and the uphill battle they are waging to stay in business during this difficult time. The National Grocers Association put out a white paper on anti-trust in the grocery industry entitled “Buyer Power and Economic Discrimination in the Grocery Aisle: Kitchen Table Issues for American Consumers”.