LSU AgCenter professor receives innovation award

Johnny Morgan  |  8/1/2016 9:17:08 PM

(08/02/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU AgCenter economist John Westra received The Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Award at the 18th Annual National Value Added Agriculture Conference held July 20 to 22 in Madison, Wisconsin.

This award recognizes outstanding efforts by state and local MarketMaker programs around the country.

MarketMaker is a national network of states that employ interactive technology and information to connect farmers and fishermen with food retailers, grocery stores, processors, caterers, chefs and consumers.

Farm Credit has sponsored this award for six years and contributes incentive cash rewards for the winners and runners-up to use to advance their MarketMaker-related programs.

Paul Dietmann, Farm Credit emerging markets specialist with Badgerland Financial in Madison, Wisconsin, presented the award to Westra.

Westra’s proposal, “Components that Worked for Louisiana MarketMaker,” built upon a previous award winner developed at the University of Kentucky.

Westra and his team adapted the program for Louisiana and were able to prepare more than 200 farmers to sell in wholesale markets.

They also introduced producers to ways they could use MarketMaker to find buyers and identify new market opportunities. Producers, grocers, restaurants and caterers also learned how to use MarketMaker as a way to source locally and regionally grown products.

“We are thrilled to partner with Farm Credit to give this year’s award winners some well-deserved recognition,” said Dar Knipe, co-founder of the MarketMaker program and managing partner of the Global Food and Ag Network. “We know that shining a light on their good work will also help others who work with farmers and communities to improve livelihoods and create sustainable market systems.”

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Paul Dietmann, left, Farm Credit emerging markets specialist with Badgerland Financial in Madison, Wisconsin, presents the Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Award to LSU AgCenter economist John Westra at the 18th Annual National Value Added Agriculture Conference, held July 20 to 22 in Madison, Wisconsin.

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