Meet the Buyers event in DeKalb March 6

• Registration due March 4

Online Staff Report

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — 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., March 6, at DeKalb County Farm Bureau.

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.

Cynthia Haskins, manager of business development and compliance for the Illinois Farm Bureau, said: “We have a very full day planned. We have grocery buyers, foodservice distributors, an organization that makes direct-to-consumer deliveries, another organization that prepares meals for schools and a state procurement department attending.”

The day will be kicked off by University of Illinois-Extension, presenting introductory information about two programs, MarketReady and Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs). MarketReady 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 DeKalb County Farm Bureau and surrounding county Farm Bureaus, U of I Extension, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Department of Agriculture and Illinois Specialty Growers Association.

Kendra Buchanan, local foods liaison for the 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.”

Greg Millburg, manager of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, added: “The interest for local food, in particular fresh fruits and vegetables, continues to grow. We have organizations traveling as far away as St. Louis and Chicago, in addition to several organizations located right here in our community, that want to meet with Illinois farmers growing fresh fruits and vegetables.”

The event is open to farmers from throughout Illinois. Farmers may attend at no cost, but need to register by March 4. To register, call the DeKalb County Farm Bureau at (815) 756-6361.

Posted Feb. 27, 2013

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