Thursday, November 8, 2007

Day 2: Blogging from Baltimore

The National Farmers’ Market Summit participants are a diverse group with about every farmers’ market stakeholder accounted for at the summit.

There are a total of 76 participants at the 1st ever National Farmers’ Market Summit. Of the 76 FM stakeholders, 25 are farmers’ market representatives (FM associations, managers, farmers), 26 are community partners (state departments of ag, university/extension, city planning, community development, local NGO’s) and 25 are national resource providers (federal agencies, national NGO’s and private foundations).

To say the least…many of the key state and national FM leaders are here to determine key issues and trends that markets will face in the coming future. This summit’s purpose is not to re-invent the wheel, but to pull all the wheels (FM leaders) together to determine the future of the farmer market industry across the nation.

Today, started with an opening address from Dr. Kenneth Clayton, Associate Administrator, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and Chair of the Farmers’ Market Consortium. We also heard from Assistant Secretary of the Maryland Dept. of Ag, Patrick McMillian and USDA AMS Associate Deputy Director Errol Bragg.

The participants then were split up for 3(20 minute) rounds of small group brainstorming sessions to identify challenges facing markets.

Some of the main issues I thought correlated to Missouri were the following:

  • Price cutting among vendors

  • Direct Marketing techniques

  • Finding vendors to sell at the markets

  • What constitutes a FM

  • Food safety concerns

  • Vendor/consumer education

  • Lack of federal/state funding

  • EBT promotion

  • Communication among markets

Many of these challenges I hope to address with our upcoming Missouri Farmers’ Market Workshops this winter.

What do you think are the challenges and obstacles that face our FM across Missouri? Where do you see the Missouri Farmers’ Market Association going the next five years? How do we overcome these obstacles?

Leave a comment and let your opinions be heard.


JamesH said...

I think we will see markets to contiune to pop up across our state, but markets have to join together. Why aren't more memebers of the MFMA? Is this soemthing the state should promote more?

Christopher White said...

I see the number of markets growing steadily...but we will have to make sure we have enough farmers to fill the void. We need to start looking into haveing more farmers in the speciality crop areas.

Maybe this woudl be something through extension or the dept of ag? I don't know exactly, but if we really want to make this industry grow we have the have the growers.

Anonymous said...

We need the WIC and Senior programs back. When we lost that it hurt not only the markets, but consumers.