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February 02, 2012   Email to Friend 

Website Provides Producers Direct Access To Customers, Resources
Jillian Clair

The Internet is helping connect consumers to down-home goodness produced by Alabama farmers. MarketMaker 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.

“We encourage farmers to get their profile set up so they can start connecting with customers and others in the industry as soon as possible,” said Mac Higginbotham, the 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 to become 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 help from Extension agents and other resources. It has 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, but also restaurants, grocery stores and chambers of commerce to register at the site.

MarketMaker also provides 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 a business visit Alabama Market Maker or find them on Facebook and Twitter.


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