USDA unveils guide to food hubsAn online guide to food hubs will help expand market opportunities for small and mid-sized agricultural producers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan introduced the first Regional Food Hub Resource Guide  in Chicago at the National Good Food Network Food Hub Collaboration conference. The 93-page document aims to give readers a greater understanding of regional food hubs, their effects and strategies to assist success and growth, according to the resource guide. In 2011, the USDA identified 170 food hubs operating around the country.

"The Regional Food Hub Resource Guide is an important tool to help promote local and regional efforts to support small and medium sized producers," Merrigan said in a news release.

Merrigan called the new guide the "most comprehensive handbook on food hubs ever available," and said it should be of use to growers, buyers and others interested in establishing food hubs.

The USDA"s Agricultural Marketing Service developed the guide in partnership the Wallace Center at Winrock International, the National Good Food Network, the National Association of Produce Market Managers and the Project for Public Spaces, according to a news release from USDA.