Penn State shares award from U.S. Department of Agriculture

October 28, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- The National Food Industry MarketMaker project, in which Penn State collaborates, has been recognized with the 2010 Partnership Award for multistate efforts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Partnership Awards honor USDA grantees in four categories for exemplary contributions in support of the USDA mission and for their positive impacts on agriculture. "NIFA's Partnership Awards showcase the outstanding work of our grantees and highlight the important role our partners play in advancing agricultural science, education and extension," said Roger Beachy, NIFA director.

Led by the University of Illinois, MarketMaker ( is an online marketing resource that gives farmers greater access to regional markets by linking them with processors, retailers, consumers and other food-supply-chain participants. USDA cited the initiative for "giving consumers better access to fresh, local foods and farmers more opportunities for profitability through a successful multistate partnership."

"The tool provides access to free, in-depth marketing information to help farm and food business owners find markets for their products throughout Pennsylvania and other participating states," said Jeffrey Hyde, associate professor of agricultural economics in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "It also helps businesses that wish to buy locally produced foods."

Hyde noted that a major benefit of the program -- particularly for smaller businesses -- is its market research capabilities. "In the map-based interface, you can learn the demographics of customers and say, 'Here's a group of homes in this neighborhood that have this income, this educational level, which are indicative of a target market,' and conduct your own market research," he said.

Seventeen land-grant institutions and more than 30 departments of agriculture and nongovernmental organizations participate in the national MarketMaker system. The Pennsylvania MarketMaker site ( went live in mid-August, and Hyde and colleagues are working to encourage registration and populate the database with information about local farms and suppliers.

"Anyone can have a presence at a low cost," he explained. "It's free once you have access to the Internet and a computer, so it's pretty easy to get involved."

Last Updated November 02, 2010