Connecting farmers with produce buyers

SYCAMORE – 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. Wednesday, March 6, at DeKalb County Farm Bureau. Buyers will provide an overview of their organization and their procurement needs. Farmers will have the opportunity to meet with buyers one-on-one. 

“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,”  said Cynthia Haskins, manager of business development and compliance at the Illinois Farm Bureau.

The University of Illinois Extension will present introductory information about MarketReady and Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs). MarketReady is a program designed to teach best commercial business practices between growers and retail markets. GAPs are recommendations that can help improve the quality and safety of produce.

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.

“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,” said Kendra Buchanan, local foods liaison for the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“The interest for local food, in particular fresh fruits and vegetables, continues to grow,”
said Greg Millburg, manager of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau. “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.

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