Meet the Buyers event for fruit, vegetable farmers Jan. 29

Online Staff Report

Farmers wanting to meet regional fresh produce buyers are invited to attend a Meet the Buyers event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Jan. 29, 2013, at the Kankakee Community College, Kankakee, Ill. Buyers will be in attendance to provide an overview of their organization and their procurement needs. Farmers will have the opportunity to meet with buyers one-on-one.

The Meet the Buyer events have proven to be popular venues for farmers who want to make contact with the decision-makers of grocery stores, foodservice distributors, restaurants and other types of market channels,” said Cynthia Haskins, manager of business development and compliance, Illinois Farm Bureau.

The day will be kicked off by James Theuri, University of Illinois-Extension, presenting introductory information about two programs — MarketReady and Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs).

James Theuri, Extension educator for local food systems and small farms, explained: “‘Market Ready’ is a program designed to teach best commercial business practices between growers and various retail markets. GAPs are a set of recommendations that can help improve the quality and safety of the produce grown.”

The hosts of the event include Kankakee County Farm Bureau and surrounding county Farm Bureaus, U of I Extension, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Department of Agriculture and Illinois Specialty Growers Association. Planned participants will include grocery retailers, foodservice distributors, a restaurant chef and an organization that prepares menu items for schools.

Kendra Buchanan, local foods liaison, Illinois Department of Agriculture, said: “In this industry, the difficulty for producers often lies in making the right connections. These events are the perfect setting for the proper people to meet and begin building working relationships.”

Chad Miller, manager, Kankakee County Farm Bureau, added: “The expansion and interest in local food continues to grow. We are pleased to make this event available in northern Illinois so farmers can have a direct interaction with buyers. This event is perfect for a farmer who wants to expand or diversify their operations.”

The event is open to farmers from throughout Illinois. Farmers may attend at no cost, but need to register by Jan. 25, 2013. To register, call the Kankakee County Farm Bureau at (815) 932-6658.

Posted Jan. 23, 2013

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