2016 Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Awards

Event date: 2016-11-15
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The Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Awards were announced at the 18th Annual National Value Added Agriculture Conference, held July 20 - 22nd in Madison, WI. This award recognizes outstanding efforts by state and local MarketMaker programs around the country. These showcased best practices, contribute to the development of local and regional food systems, and help farmers connect to new market opportunities. Farm Credit has sponsored this award for 6 years and contributes incentive cash rewards for the winners and runners-up to use to advance their MarketMaker-related programs. Paul Dietmann, Farm Credits Emerging Markets Specialist with Badgerland Financial in Madison, WI was on hand to present the awards.

Receiving top honors was John Westra with the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana MarketMaker. His proposal entitled, Components that Worked for Louisiana MarketMaker, built upon a previous award winner, the Market Ready Training Program, developed at the University of Kentucky. Westra and his team adapted the program for Louisiana and were able to prepare over 200 farmers to sell into wholesale markets. During the program the LSU team also introduced producers to ways they could use MarketMaker to find buyers and identify new market opportunities. In addition, producers, grocers, restaurants and caterers learned how MarketMaker could be used as a way to source locally and regionally grown products.

Michigan State University Product Centers Brenda Reau and Joanne Davidhizar received 1st runner-up for their Michigan MarketMaker Outreach Program which has successfully engaged 82 new farmers and food related business in the Michigan MarketMaker program and introduced new agriculturally focused entrepreneurs to the MSU Product Center services. Reau and Davidhizar utilized traditional marketing along with social media strategies to connect farmers and buyers in Michigan.

The 2nd runner-up award went to Courtney Long with Iowa State University for her Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit program. Long leads a team that conducts food systems and health assessments for communities in Iowa. MarketMaker was the tool used to identify food system gaps and assets around the state and identify opportunities for innovative projects that are complimentary to existing agricultural enterprises.

We are thrilled to partner with Farm Credit to give this years award winners some well-deserved recognition. says Dar Knipe, Co-founder of the MarketMaker program and managing partner of the Global Food and Ag Network. We know that shining a light on their good work will also help others who work with farmers and communities to improve livelihoods and create sustainable market systems.

Gary Matteson, Vice President of Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach, Farm Credit, praised the positive partnership between Farm Credit, the state partner programs, and National MarketMaker. Farm Credit is pleased to support all the innovators who enlist MarketMaker websites for the benefit of local farmers and ranchers. said Matteson. Growing crops and livestock isnt easy, but selling is even harder. Expanding access to more and better marketing channels is what MarketMaker is so good at.

Lori Dalfonso
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