Farmers Markets Reaping Big Benefits

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McDougall says farmers markets have ripple effects throughout the state. McDougall says farmers markets have ripple effects throughout the state.
INDIANAPOLIS -

The growing farm-to-fork movement in Indiana is sparking growth among farmers markets throughout the state. The Hoosier Farmers Market Association says markets host an estimated 1,200 vendors, generating an economic impact of more than $2 million annually. The organization, which is marking Indiana Farmers Market Week this week, says the state is home to more than 150 markets. HFMA Executive Director Christina McDougall says it's important to remind Hoosiers that "food is available beyond grocery store shelves."

McDougall says farmers markets have ripple effects throughout the state. The HFMA estimates 22 cents of each dollar spent at a big-box grocer stays in the local economy, while 67 cents of every dollar spent at a farmers market remains local. She says that helps employ restaurant owners, farmers, chefs and servers.

The state is looking to shine a spotlight on the local food movement through the Indiana Grown initiative, which is supported by public and private partners in the food and ag sector around Indiana. The initiative's efforts include partnering with retailers such as Marsh Supermarkets Inc., Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), where kiosks display Indiana-make products.

The initiative also recently launched the Homegrown By Heroes program, which promotes veteran producers through specifically-designed branding on packaging and in retail displays.

The ag sector in general continues to be a growth area for Indiana. In March, Walmart (NYSE: WMT) announced plans to build one of the nation's largest milk processing operations in Fort Wayne. Also that month, Krone North America detailed relocation plans from Tennessee to Shelbyville and the Newton County Commission and County Council approved an infrastructure project to support a proposed $230 million cheese manufacturing facility from Select Milk Producers and its flagship, Fair Oaks Farms.

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