SITE PROVIDES PRODUCERS DIRECT ACCESS TO CUSTOMERS, RESOURCES
A new way to market and sell agricultural products will soon be available to Alabama farmers.
MarketMaker, which kicks off in Alabama Oct. 14, is an online marketplace and interactive mapping system that locates businesses and markets of agricultural products in 17 states, providing an important link between producers and consumers.
"Farmers can go ahead and register, and we encourage them to get their profile set up before Oct. 14 so they can start connecting with customers and others in the industry the first day," said Mac Higginbotham, Alabama Farmers Federation's Horticulture Division director. "This is an easy, free opportunity for farmers to reach consumers and suppliers directly."
MarketMaker was originally developed as an online marketing resource to give Illinois farmers greater access to regional markets by linking them with processors, retailers, consumers and other food supply chain participants.
Since its inception, MarketMaker has expanded and is currently one of the most extensive collections of searchable food industry data in the country, containing nearly 500,000 profiles of farmers and other food-related enterprises in 17 states.
"People in other states are really happy with it," said Bethany Walton, Alabama MarketMaker's outreach coordinator. "You're getting a free marketing tool in addition to getting help from Extension agents and other resources. It's created a lot of new partnerships for people, not only business to consumer, but also business to business."
Walton said she expects not only farmers and consumers will register, but also restaurants, grocery stores and chambers of commerce as well.
MarketMaker will also provide helpful information to consumers such as what foods are in season, upcoming agricultural events and other information about Alabama agriculture.
Alabama MarketMaker is a free online service sponsored by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, Auburn University, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grants and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.
To register your business on the Alabama MarketMaker site, visit register.marketmaker.uiuc.edu.