For small-scale farmers and ranchers in Texas, it can be a challenge just getting products to the market.
Caroline Krejci, an assistant professor in the Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering Department, is using a grant from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education program to explore how to solve this problem through collaborative transportation and the creation of virtual logistics communities.
“We want to help family farms and ranches figure out how to efficiently transport their products to customers throughout their respective regions,” says Dr. Krejci. “The long-term goal is to connect them and build a network of producers across the state to leverage regional variations in growing seasons and products.”
She is working with farmers in three Texas regions who have already begun collaborating with others in their communities to create better ways to transport food. Krejci hopes to help them determine how to make these collaborations more efficient and resilient.
“It’s a balance between efficiency and the social aspect of making sure that farmers can thrive and earn a living.”