Understanding Your Transportation Costs

The real costs of moving good food from farm-to-market include more time and money than many farmers realize they are spending. This gets reflected in both obvious and hidden ways: farmers on the road are not on the farm or at home, vehicles wear out, fuel costs pile up, the hassle factor runs high, and the price of local food continues to be a concern for those trying to sell and/or buy it.

Some sharing of the ride might make a lot of sense — and cents. The first step toward figuring out how to make farm-to-market transportation more efficient is to get a handle on the real costs of moving food.

Calculating Costs with Worksheets & Online

Land Stewardship Project staff members engaged in Community Based Food Systems work have adapted a series of worksheets from an online calculator developed by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. These transportation formulas will work for farmers who are:

• direct marketing,

• already using (or considering) an intermediate distributor,

• selling into a wholesale market.

These worksheets are designed to be used with paper and a calculator at the kitchen table, and cover each of the three delivery modes: direct, intermediary and wholesale. To download pdf versions of the worksheets, see:

Calculating Your Transportation Costs: Direct Delivery by Farmer-owned Vehicle (pdf)

Calculating Your Transportation Costs: Delivery Using an Intermediary (pdf)

Calculating Your Transportation Costs: Delivery to a Warehouse (pdf)

If you prefer the online calculator, it can be found here.

Calculando Sus Costos De Transporte: Entrega Directa en Vehiculo Propiedad del Agricultor

Calculando Sus Costos De Transporte: Entregas Utilizando un Intermediario

Calculando Sus Costos De Transporte: Entrega a un Almacen

Entendiendo los gastos del trasporte de su producto

Resources & More Information

To help you think through a full accounting of your farm gate-to-customer transportation costs, click here for a list of resources to get you started. On this resources page you will find links to the average cost of running cars, vans and light trucks, timely research comparing meat delivery in the Twin Cities, and more. There may be “no wrong answers,” but there certainly are some smarter ones. These resources can help you strengthen your farm business.

For more information, including details on farm-to-market transportation workshops LSP holds periodically in the region, contact: Caroline van Schaik in southeast Minnesota at 507-523-3366, caroline@landstewardshipproject.org; or Wade Kaiser in Big Stone County at wadek@landstewardshipproject.org, 320-305-9247.