Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson discusses local food opportunities and resources available to the public

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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) — Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson addressed local food opportunities and resources available to the public during a press conference Thursday at the Mississippi Farmers Market.

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC) currently offers several resources for finding local food and agricultural products. Commissioner Gipson outlined seven ways consumers can find local products:

  • Find local farmers markets near you on msfarmermarket.com
  • Find an agrotourism farm near you at msagritourism.org
  • Farmers can register for free and consumers can buy locally from farmers at msfarmmarketplace.com
  • Subscribe to the print and online bimonthly Mississippi Market Bulletin at msmarketbulletin.org
  • Buy the best of everything grown, bred, crafted and made at genuinems.com
  • Buy live cattle and custom process or buy retail from one of our many USDA processors.
  • Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm by purchasing an interest in agricultural produce and produce, egg shares, and flock shares.

“Due to various supply chain disruptions and labor shortages across the country, our agency recognizes the concerns of Mississippians to provide for their families,” Gipson said. “However, I want to assure our citizens that there is no reason to worry about possible food shortages.”

Gipson recognized the tough times farmers are facing with high input and transportation costs. Farmers face rising fuel, fertilizer and other input costs. Rising food prices do not translate into increased profits for farmers.

“Less than two percent of the American population are farmers,” Gipson continued. “That means less than two percent of our nation is responsible for providing food, fiber and shelter to the other 98 percent. It’s a big challenge, and we need to do everything we can to support our farmers. Even with record gas prices, fertilizer shortages and inflation, our farmers and ranchers in Mississippi have not given up. They continue to provide in order to maintain our livelihoods in these difficult times. »

He encouraged the public to shop at local farmers’ markets. These markets provide consumers with the opportunity to purchase local produce and other food items, including meat, dairy and eggs. He invited the public to shop at the Mississippi Farmers Market, as well as more than 70 additional farmers’ markets located across Mississippi.

The Mississippi Farmers Market is open Thursday seasonally from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The public can visit www.msfarmersmarket.com to find a place.

An additional option for buying directly from farmers is through one of the more than 100 agritourism operations in the state. Agritourism is an enterprise on a working farm or other agricultural enterprise that provides an educational and fun experience for visitors while generating additional income for the owner. Many operations in Mississippi include pick-your-own farms. These farms allow visitors to pick the fruits and vegetables they want. To find an agriturismo near you, visit msagritourism.org and download the Mississippi Agritourism mobile app.

Another major local food supply resource is the Mississippi Farm Marketplace, an online portal developed by MDAC to connect farmers and consumers looking to buy directly from producers. This initiative for an accessible consumer-to-producer marketing tool was a direct result of the negative impacts of COVID-19 on food supply chains and product availability. The Mississippi Farm Marketplace website allows farmers to list their products available for sale directly to the public, as well as the labor needs of their farms through job listings. All product listings are categorized and saved with availability start and end dates to ensure seasonal products are advertised accurately. The Mississippi Farm Marketplace is free to the public and easily accessible via computer or smartphone. Find fresh products or promote your agricultural products by registering on msfarmmarketplace.com.

The Mississippi Market Bulletin is the state’s #1 farm newspaper providing the latest farming news and updates, while directly connecting buyers and sellers across the state. For an annual subscription of only $10.00, Mississippi subscribers can list up to two advertisements per issue for any agriculture-related article, along with their location and contact information. This lets readers know exactly what products are available in their area. Currently, the Mississippi Market Bulletin serves more than 35,000 paid subscribers across the United States and manages an average of 2,500 ad listings per issue for various agricultural products statewide. To learn more about the Mississippi Market Bulletinvisit msmarketbulletin.org.

Consumers can find the best of all that is grown, raised, crafted and produced in the Magnolia State through MDAC’s flagship Genuine MS program. The Genuine MS program is a brand initiative to promote and bring attention to the incredible line of Mississippi products. To genuinems.com, audiences can find locally made products from 255 members located across the state and include farms, ranches, agri-tourism operations and small businesses. The Genuine MS Store, located inside the Mississippi Farmers Market in Jackson, offers a selection of over 200 Genuine MS products. The store is open every Thursday and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Genuine MS is also developing an online store system and inventory with pre-packaged gift options available for shipment. For more information on this, visit genuinems.com and follow Genuine MS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thanks to the efforts of the state of Mississippi, local meat processing has grown with the commissioning of two new USDA-inspected livestock slaughter and processing facilities in the southern part of the state , and two existing USDA-inspected facilities that completed expansions in the past nine months. This has increased processing capacity in the state and will help reduce the long wait times that many farmers face. In the coming months, an additional USDA inspected facility is expected to open and the expansion of one of the existing facilities is expected to be completed. Construction of the new facility and expansion of the current facility triples USDA Mississippi’s meat processing capacity and provides farmers with more options for selling their meat products. Consumers can buy live cattle and custom process them or buy retail from one of our many USDA processors.

Gipson encouraged consumers to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm by purchasing an interest in agricultural produce and produce, egg shares, or flock shares. In many cases, consumers will pay a subscription fee to receive a certain number of product boxes each week for a certain number of weeks or for a season. Several CSA farms are listed on www.genuinems.com and msfarmmarketplace.com.

“I realize these are tough times,” Gipson said. “A lot of people are worried about food availability and prices. So I want to reassure all Mississippians that there are options available to them. The silver lining in all of this is that instead of worrying about it, consumers have a number of options to buy directly from farmers; therefore, we can do something about it.

Visit mdac.ms.gov to learn more about the various opportunities and resources available to the public through the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce.

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