In these particularly challenging times for local agricultural, it’s important that we do everything possible to seek out new national and international markets but also to create and bolster our local businesses as well. Increasing diversity in products raised on farms locally is a way to add value to a farms bottom line. One of those markets that hold real promise is the local grocery store.

Grocery stores have a built-in customer base for locally grown and produced foods while also being connected to other markets through delivery truck routes. The University of Minnesota is currently conducting research on linking these potential markets for local producers and the initial results are very promising.

There is much work to be done to rebuild a food system where farms and grocery stores work together. One of the key components in making all of this possible is to make sure that local grocery stores remain viable. Minnesota lawmakers are currently considering legislation that will once again provide support for the Minnesota Good Food Access Fund. This fund provide grants, loans and assistance to help local grocery stores in regions like ours modernize and improve opportunities to carry locally produced products.

It’s important that the Minnesota Legislature provide the funds this program needs, not only to help keep our grocery stores in business but to also retain and grow a market for local producers who are looking for new opportunities. Right now, there are bipartisan bills moving through the Minnesota House and Senate (House File 436 and Senate File 1354). These bills support the Good Food Access Funds work on rural grocery store viability.

Pick up the phone today and call your local House representative and senator to tell them you want them to sponsor and support these bills because no one should have to drive 30 miles to get to a grocery store.

Sylvia Luetmer

Alexandria

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