COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio farmers and other food producers who sell their agricultural products directly to consumers or other businesses will soon have access to a new Web site that will help them find potential buyers for their products.
Ohio has joined MarketMaker, a national network of state Web sites connecting farmers with food retailers, grocery stores, processors, caterers, chefs, and other food supply chain contacts.
The media is invited to attend an event celebrating the formal launch of MarketMaker on March 18 at North Market in downtown Columbus. The half-hour event will be held upstairs in the Columbus Dispatch Kitchen beginning at 2 p.m. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is scheduled to speak.
Ohio is the 10th state to join the national MarketMaker network. The concept to converge a variety of related databases into one Web site and to summarize the information by using clickable maps originally came from collaboration between University of Illinois Extension and its state partners.
"Food and agriculture make up Ohio's No. 1 industry, adding more than $93 billion to the state's economy," said Robert Boggs, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. "The Ohio MarketMaker program will help expand this industry by allowing farms to provide safe and fresh foods directly to retailers and restaurants."
Ohio MarketMaker is supported through the collaboration of ODA, Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Ohio Farm Bureau and the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT).
"All of us at Ohio State University are excited to unite our energies with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau and the Center for Innovative Food Technology to introduce the MarketMaker program to Ohio," said Bobby Moser, dean of Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. "This innovative, affordable, and accessible program will provide an important new link between Ohio farmers and a wide range of retailers and consumers interested in high-quality, locally grown, fresh products."
David Beck, executive vice president of CIFT, said that MarketMaker is an important first step in creating opportunities for economic growth throughout Ohio.
"During a time when every business decision affects the bottom line, particularly for small businesses, tools designed to enhance operations by identification of new markets are essential. MarketMaker links regional and national markets while at the same time assisting with local product advancement," said Beck. "It is a pleasure to assist in bringing Ohio on board with MarketMaker, as producers, chefs, retailers and all associated with the food chain are sure to benefit."
MarketMaker has one of the most extensive collections of searchable food industry-related data in the country. Each state's site allows users, free of charge, to query, map and locate data that helps connects buyers and sellers.
"We see Ohio MarketMaker as a way to use technology and networking to help farm families find outlets to sell their products," said Jack Fisher, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. "Farm Bureau's Our Ohio consumer brand helps raise awareness about agriculture in the media by telling stories about farm families on TV, in print media and on the Web. Our involvement with Ohio MarketMaker is an extension of this effort but instead of being consumer targeted, Ohio MarketMaker is more of a business to business resource."
To RSVP to the formal launch event, contact Candace Pollock, Ohio State University Extension, at (614) 292-3799 or email@example.com. For more information on Ohio MarketMaker, contact Julie Fox at OSU South Centers at Piketon at (740) 289-2071, ext. 225, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or log on to http://ohiomarketmaker.com.