Faculty Publications

An Agent-Based Model of Agricultural Land Use in Support of Local Food Systems

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2023 Winter Simulation Conference (WSC)

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Local food systems, in which consumers source food from nearby farmers, offer a sustainable alternative to the modern industrial food supply system. However, scaling up local food production to meet consumer demand will require farmers to allocate more land to this purpose. This paper describes an agent-based model that represents commodity-producing Iowa farmers and their decisions about converting some of their acreage to specialty crop production for local consumption. Farmer agents' land-use decisions are informed by messages passed to them via their social connections with other farmers in their communities and messages from agricultural extension agents. Preliminary experimentation revealed that leveraging extension agents to increase the frequency and strength of messages to farmers in support of local food production has a modest positive impact on adoption. By itself, however, this intervention is unlikely to yield significant improvements to food system sustainability.


Department of Psychology

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