Farmer veteran group, MarketMaker join forces to sell veterans’ ag products

By Kay Shipman

Two national organizations that promote farmers agreed to work together and connect buyers with farmers who served or are currently in the military. Illinois will be one of five states hosting a pilot project for the new partners.

Illinois Farm Bureau is a partner with both Farmer Veteran Coalition and Food MarketMaker, an interactive database of farmer sellers, food business and consumer buyers. The Illinois Chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition launched last year during the IFB annual meeting in Chicago.

In an agreement signed in late May, the two organizations agreed to promote sales of products grown or produced by farmers currently serving in the military or those who previously served. In addition to Illinois, pilot projects will occur in Arkansas, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia.

For members of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, the biggest advantage of working with the nationwide, established ag database is helping first-generation farmers and those with small farming operations connect with buyers in a virtual marketplace, according to Natalie Monroe, the coalition’s communications director.

MarketMaker recently launched an e-commerce platform for Illinois farmers with accounts on the database. Participating farmers may provide information at no cost about their operations and products. The information is shared simultaneously with partners, including IFB, Illinois Farmers Market Association and Illinois Specialty Growers Association. Farmers pay a small transaction fee for each order they receive.

Dar Knipe, MarketMaker co-founder and director, said, “We have wanted to see this partnership with Farmer Veteran Coalition happen for a long time. We are excited for the opportunity to help farmer veterans connect to new markets.”

IFB supports veterans interested in careers in food, farming and agriculture.

For more information, visit Food MarketMaker's website and Facebook, or Farmer Veteran Coalition's website and Facebook.

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