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University of Illinois Extension

Meet the Buyers Event-November 14

October 2, 2013

Bloomington, IL—Farmers wanting to meet regional fresh produce buyers are invited to attend a Meet the Buyers event scheduled for November 14, 2013 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm at Southern Illinois University. 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.

"We have a great line up of buyers planning on attending," reported Cynthia Haskins, Manager of Business Development of Compliance, Illinois Farm Bureau. "We have buyers and representatives from Schnucks, Camp Ondessonk, Neighborhood Co-op, Rosemont Farms, Ole Tyme Produce and others. There will be a special networking session from 2:00 and 3:30 pm for farmers to meet with local and regional chefs.

"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, Illinois Department of Agriculture.

University of Illinois-Extension will present 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.

"Both of these programs (MarketReady and GAPs) provide growers with a great deal of useful information that they can apply to their operations to enhance the marketing of products and also ensure food safety," said Nathan Johanning, University of Illinois Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms.

The following organizations have come together to coordinate the one-day event: Illinois Farm Bureau, Jackson-Union County Farm Bureau, University of Illinois-Extension, Illinois Specialty Growers Association, Illinois Department of Agriculture, and several surrounding Farm Bureau offices.

"The Meet the Buyer events are a great way for farmers to learn what type of products buyers are looking for and what it takes to do business with the different organizations," said Lindsay McQueen, Manager of the Jackson-Union County Farm Bureau.

The event is free to farmers, but please RSVP to 618 684-3129 by Nov. 12.

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