From the Field: Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Awards

Jun 24, 2015 4:00 PM ET
Campaign: The AGgregator

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Farm Credit recently sponsored the MarketMaker Innovation Awards to celebrate powerful, forward-thinking initiatives that use innovative ideas to improve the food production and distribution industry.

MarketMaker is a national network of states that connect farmers and fishermen with food retailers, grocery stores, processors, caterers, chefs, and consumers. Made up of Land Grant Universities, Departments of Agriculture, and food and agricultural organizations, this partnership focuses on building a virtual infrastructure that brings healthier, fresher, and more flavorful food to the average consumer.

The 2015 MarketMaker Innovation Awards were presented at the National Value Added Agriculture Conference in Austin, Texas on May 18-20. Arkansas MarketMaker, led by Ronald Rainey and Beverly Dunaway, received top honors for their proposal titled Building Partnerships to Assist Grower Marketing Efforts across the Food Value Chain. This initiative used MarketMaker to strategically engage various partners involved in the food value chain, which created mutually beneficial relationships that will impact agriculture in several significant ways.

Most notably, the increase in farmer engagement in farm-to-school programs facilitated by the initiative helped the state legislature pass Senate Bill 1037 into law. Now Act 1286, this legislation creates a pilot program for five K-12 schools to promote college and career readiness for careers in agriculture through the incorporation of agri-education curriculum.

The University of Vermont’s Dr. Kathleen Liang took second place for the effort Reinvigorating the MarketMaker Programs through Innovative Theory, Practices, and Collaboration Framework and Virginia MarketMaker’s Dr. Kimberly Morgan received third place for Strategic Management of Applied Economic Problems through Directed Experiential Learning – Bringing MarketMaker to Virginia. For more information on the winning programs, click here.

Gary Matteson, Vice President of young, beginning, small farmer programs and outreach for the Farm Credit Council, praised the positive partnership between Farm Credit, the state partner programs, and national MarketMaker.

“Helping consumers find fresh, safe, healthy, local foods while providing producers with access to more and better markets is what MarketMaker does best. We are proud to be in our fifth year of supporting the Innovation Awards,” said Matteson.