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.

Michelle Miller
Michelle Miller

“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 organized a workshop on business innovations in regional food freight systems that will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 5 in downtown Chicago. The workshop is being hosted in conjunction with the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service’s Transportation Division and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The speaker list features business leaders and innovators in greening food supply chains.

“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