Indiana wants to help Hoosier farmers who are ready to grow beyond the farmer’s market. The Indiana Department of Agriculture released new data on food hubs Monday.
“Food hub” can be a broad term, but Agriculture Department Director Ted McKinney says people should think of the word “aggregation” – it’s a way for farmers and food producers, often via a website, to connect with buyers. And a new Department of Agriculture study shows Indiana can do more to utilize food hubs.
James Jones is with a group in Fort Wayne looking to set one up. He says the study told him that food hubs are really about cooperation, not competition.
“Indiana users would get together, work, develop relationships locally so that Indianans produce and grow Indiana’s own good,” Jones said.
More than 70 percent of consumers surveyed in the study say they’re at least somewhat willing to pay more for locally grown food…though McKinney cautions farmers who get too eager hearing that.
“There’s many, many consumer studies that are ripe with consumers saying, ‘Sure, I’m willing to pay more for whatever the feature it is.’ And then they don’t do that,” he said.
Still, McKinney says the state is excited about the possibilities presented by food hubs. He does note that while the state is happy to provide information and help generate collaboration, it has no plans to subsidize food hub growth.