The trip that our food takes once it leaves the farm may be invisible to most customers, but our food distribution system greatly influences the quality and type of food that we consume. It also has a great impact on our society. Though the food distribution system was devised and maintained largely by private enterprise, government faces a pressing need to help change the system. Farmers, distributors, and retailers all strive to be profitable and provide quality goods, but their business approaches often do not align. The approaches culminate in a system that could better serve the public. - Scott Stringer Manhattan Borough President, February 2009.

On Wednesday, August 11, 2010 U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood announced the designation of 14 America’s Marine Highway Projects. The Lower Hudson – Long Island Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council Inc. in collaboration with the NYC Soil and Water Conservation District is proud to be recognized as one of the designees carrying out the Hudson River Foodway Corridor Initiative.

 

The Foodway Corridor Project will optimize operational energy efficiencies by Using a network of intermodal land based and waterborne barge distribution of New York’s locally produced food. The technologies incorporate energy savings and emissions reduction through a high efficiency, electric / hybrid refrigeration system. This system, which includes battery supplied energy on the barge, is an innovation solving many of the problems facing cold storage movement in the food industry.  The research phase of this effort will focus on developing technology that leads the way for a commercial marine corridor service company.

In order to economically justify a barge initiative, previous studies suggest that niche markets would be the best means for success. The rationale for a Foodway Corridor Project will take several factors into account. (1) The cost of efficient transportation of agricultural products from point of origin to its final destination (Energy Benefit) (2) The environmental factors related to emissions such as natural resources protection, including, but not limited to air quality. Additionally there is a quality of life issue to be addressed regarding highway traffic (safety), noise and congestion (Environmental Benefit), (3) The services associated with land based V.S. marine highway infrastructure - costs reductions (maintenance) and job creation (Economic benefit).

The Hudson River, Long Island Sound and coastal channel networks connect urban and rural communities of our region rather than dividing us. There is an opportunity to utilize these Marine Highways to link commerce, industry and consumers.

The regional movement of agricultural products through the Hudson River Valley and Long Island is dominated by trucking, with the flow of product hinging more on access to – and the cost of – transportation to market than any other single factor. The Lower Hudson – Long Island Resource Conservation and Development Council Inc. in collaboration with a diverse group of partners, including the United States Department of Agriculture seeks to research the need for a marine highway connection to transport locally produced New York State agricultural products from the upstate and Long Island farm regions to the New York City metropolitan region, while providing a public benefit service for over 9 million consumers. Ninety percent of the state's population and a wide variety of economic activities are concentrated in the communities along its waterfronts — from the largest cities to the smallest hamlets.

The first phase of this effort will focus on the development of a Hudson River Foodway Corridor with an approach to reduce the cost of transportation and the effects that land-based distribution has on the environment. The region’s consumer demand for food and related food processing activities generate a substantial amount of land-based traffic exacerbating the already congested transportation system. Domestically produced goods are trucked to markets and distribution centers such as Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx New York, the largest food market in the United States. Unfortunately the Bronx Peninsula, home to the Hunts Point Market and surrounding coastal islands of Manhattan and Long Island (including Brooklyn and Queens), have limited  intermodal food distribution.  Less than 3% of what is shipped to the Hunts Point Market arrives by rail and the remaining 97% of shipments are delivered by truck, approximately 16,000 trucks per day to Hunts Point alone. This staggering amount of commerce and food distribution certainly warrants further investigation of alternatives to overland trucking. The New York / New Jersey region is one of the world’s leading centers of marine transportation and sea activity. Much of the northeast region’s food distribution needs including institutions, schools (NYC schools serve over 800,000 meals per day), retail outlets and small food stores could be offset using a waterborne intermodal system. The Hudson River as a marine highway would unite communities rather than separate them.

 

The Lower Hudson – Long Island Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3, non-profit organization made up of volunteers working in partnership with local communities and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service. Providing assistance to Urban and Rural Communities throughout Brooklyn, Dutchess, Manhattan, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Rockland, Staten Island, Suffolk, The Bronx, Ulster and Westchester.