ILLINOIS (IRN) — With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the food supply chain, a coalition of Illinois farm groups is encouraging more farmers and consumers to use technology to connect.
It is not a secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the agriculture industry across the country, and Illinois is no exception. That is why the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, and the state agriculture department have partnered with 10 other organizations to create Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois.
And they want more farmers to join in.
The program is an add-on to Prairie Bounty, a directory of more than 900 Illinois farms and agriculture-related businesses and organizations. By providing a single profile, farmers can link to consumers through multiple nationwide platforms; they can include links to their own websites and online stores as well.
Now they want to especially link local producers and consumers.
Raghella Scavuzzo, Illinois Farm Bureau associate director of food systems development, said consumers can search the directory to find just about anything they need.
“You can search by county, you can search by growing practice. So if I want to know who is growing strawberries in Adams County, all I have to do is log in there,” she told Illinois News Network in a telephone interview.
“And then for the business, it’s just updating your profile, and then you can share that on your social media, extend across all the other businesses’ social media as well. So you’re really getting (to make) those connections that we know are so dire at this point in time.”
The site allows businesses to connect with one another as well – for example, it lists 256 small meat-processing plants that a livestock farmer may not know about. Or there may be a restaurant making deliveries that would include flowers or plants as part of a holiday package.
“Everybody might have a different connection to a different business or consumer, but together we can create a united front for a statewide directory,” Scavuzzo said.