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Value Chain Coordination: Getting Started

Explaining Value Chain Coordination, and how one begins coordinating in a community.


Increasing the health and wealth of communities and the local farmers who supply them requires physical infrastructure to collect and move food. But it also requires a significant level of coordination - people and organizations who make fruitful connections between the food and the consumer; who work to pilot new ideas; who make the political and business ground fertile for success. 

We call this critical work "value chain coordination." 

This webinar is the first in a series that illuminates, by inspirational example, the skills needed to find success in coordinating a value chain. Our panelists will illustrate their experiences with value chain coordination, introduce concrete metrics to demonstrate impact, and explain, based on their past work, how one can begin coordinating value chains in a new community. 


  • James Barham, USDA 
  • Brenda Williams, Communities Unlimited 
  • Sue Beckwith, Texas Center for Local Food 
  • Rebecca Dunning, North Carolina State University and Food Project Planning and Evaluation





Presenter Bios

Jim Barham

Jim BarhamJim Barham is an Agricultural Economist for USDA’s Rural Development agency. Jim obtained a MA in Cultural Anthropology and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida.  Before joining the USDA, Jim worked extensively in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean with a number of nonprofit organizations and government agencies on agricultural development projects targeting smallholder producers.  Jim joined USDA in 2007 where he has worked to improve marketing opportunities for small and mid-size producers through a combination of research, technical assistance, and grant support.  Jim has presented research and published a number of articles on regional food hubs, food value chains, local food distribution, and foodservice procurement.  He is also currently on the management team of USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative – a USDA-wide effort to  support the development of local and regional food systems.

Sue Beckwith

Sue BeckwithSue Beckwith is the Executive Director of the Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF).  TCLF collaborates with organizations across Texas and the U.S. to develop local food enterprises that support Texas sustainable agriculture and rural job creation.  Sue is a former farmer, past president of Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and was the start up project manager for Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill, the only certified organic commercial feed mill in Texas.  She lives in Elgin, Texas.

Rebecca Dunning

Rebecca DunningRebecca Dunning is a sociologist and agricultural economist, and is a research assistant-professor at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) at North Carolina State University. She specializes in the social and economic aspects of food systems and food supply chains. Rebecca leads the Center’s work to strengthen the economic viability of small and mid-scale food producers through research activities and engagement with business entities across the food value chain. She manages the North Carolina Growing Together project (NCGT,, a 5-year (2013-2017) USDA-funded initiative to link small and mid-scale producers of produce, meat, dairy, and seafood into grocery and food service supply chains. Rebecca’s work with Lowes Foods on their DSD program has been part of that work. Today she’ll talk about how a university begins a partnership with a mainstream food business, and the unique role that universities, including extension services, can play in supporting the farm to grocery store value chain.

Brenda Williams

Brenda WilliamsBrenda Williams is the Healthy Foods Coordinator for Communities Unlimited. In this role, she is responsible for managing healthy foods and value chain initiatives at Communities Unlimited. Prior to joining Communities Unlimited, Brenda served as a Manager for the Fogelman College of Business at The University of Memphis. Brenda's previous work experience includes being a program administrator, grant writer, major gifts officer, and consultant for various nonprofit organizations. Brenda received a MBA from Webster University and a BS in Business from Arkansas State University.

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