The 8,436 farms in Southeast Minnesota sold $866 million of farm products in 1997. However, the region's farmers spent $947 million raising this food. This is $80 million more than they earned by selling their products! Even more troubling, Southeast Minnesota farm families spend about $400 million per year purchasing inputs and credit from distant suppliers. Very little of this money builds wealth for local families. Meanwhile, the 303,256 residents of Southeast Minnesota spend $506 million buying food, almost all from producers outside the state. This means as much as $800 million each year flows out of our agricultural region as local families grow and buy food. Almost none of this money builds wealth in our neighborhoods. Creating our own regional food system is one way to reduce these losses.