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Demand for Local Foods Sweetens Up Bottom Line for Many OH Farmers

September 4, 2007

Demand for fresh local produce is fortifying the bottom line for many Ohio farmers. Jason Williamson, a Paulding farmer, says demand for locally grown foods is booming, leading to big opportunities for those selling at farmers' markets, roadside stands, and directly to local groceries.

"This summer, sales at most roadside markets are definitely increasing. Consumers prefer locally-grown produce, and knowing something about who grew it."

He says farmers' profits increase when selling directly to consumers rather than through traditional wholesalers. Governor Strickland has announced the creation of a food policy council, in part to help connect Ohio farmers with local markets.

John Ellerman of the Ohio Farmers Union says demand is outstripping supply for locally grown produce in the state.

"All sales channels including retail markets, farmers markets, roadside stands and grocery stores are embracing this. There are so many new opportunities and farmers are taking advantage of them."

An additional boost for local farmers could come from a proposal in the U.S. Farm Bill requiring "country of origin" labels on most food products. Supporters say this would help consumers easily identify local and American-grown produce.

Rob Ferrett/John Robinson, Public News Service - OH