17 June 2015
AUSTIN, TX – The Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Awards were announced at the seventeenth annual National Value Added Agriculture Conference, which was held May 18-20 in Austin, TX. This presentation celebrates outstanding efforts to improve statewide MarketMaker programs and expand MarketMaker’s online database of food industry and market data by the National MarketMaker Partners Network. Farm Credit sponsored the event and contributed incentive cash rewards for the winner and runners-up to use to advance their state MarketMaker programs.
Arkansas MarketMaker, led by Ronald Rainey and Beverly Dunaway, received top honors for their proposal titled, Building Partnerships to Assist Grower Marketing Efforts across the Food Value Chain. This initiative used MarketMaker to strategically engage various partners involved in the food value chain, which ultimately created mutually beneficial relationships that will impact agriculture in several significant ways. Most notably, the increased farmer engagement in farm-to-school programs facilitated by this initiative caused the state legislature to pass Senate Bill 1037 into law. Now Act 1286, this legislation creates a pilot program for five K-12 schools to promote college and career readiness for careers in agriculture through the incorporation of agri-education curriculum.
The University of Vermont’s Dr. Kathleen Liang took second place for the effort titled, Reinvigorating the MarketMaker Programs through Innovative Theory, Practices, and Collaboration Framework. Liang published a chapter about the innovative network marketing framework demonstrated by the MarketMaker resource in the textbook, Innovation in Services Marketing and Management: Strategies for Emerging Economies. This chapter exposed readers to the MarketMaker framework and supported its application in improving economic opportunities in instances where individuals and organizations are open and able to adopt e-commerce.
Virginia MarketMaker’s Dr. Kimberly Morgan received third place for Strategic Management of Applied Economic Problems through Directed Experiential Learning – Bringing MarketMaker to Virginia. A student-led interdisciplinary team at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, overseen by Dr. Morgan, worked directly with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to find a solution for ongoing issues faced by the state’s meat processors and packing houses. They identified MarketMaker as the best existing resource to alleviate the issues and performed a series of presentations to the university’s leadership that successfully secured funding to bring the program to Virginia for the next two years.
Gary Matteson, Vice President of Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach, Farm Credit, and Stan Ray, Chief Administrative Officer, Farm Credit Bank of Texas, praised the positive partnership between Farm Credit, the state partner programs, and national MarketMaker.
“Helping consumers find fresh, safe, healthy, local foods while providing producers with access to more and better markets is what MarketMaker does best. We are proud to be in our fifth year of supporting the Innovation Awards,” said Matteson.
“Farm Credit continues to support MarketMaker and recognize Innovation Award winners as examples of how good ideas can be used by others in the community,” added Ray.
MarketMaker is a national network of states that connect farmers and fishermen with food retailers, grocery stores, processors, caterers, chefs, and consumers. It is an ever-growing partnership of Land Grant Universities, Departments of Agriculture, and food and agricultural organizations investing in a coordinated effort to build a virtual infrastructure that brings healthier, fresher, and more flavorful food to the average consumer. MarketMaker was created at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004 and is licensed to Riverside Research, an independent not-for-profit organization. Riverside Research is investing in additional research and development to expand MarketMaker’s capabilities to new markets and regions, both nationally and potentially globally. MarketMaker is hosted and maintained by Riverside Research and is guided by an advisory board made up of representatives from participating partner states.