FMC Live Chat: Farmers Markets Host Successful Visits by Public Officials

Representative Rodney Davis chats with staff at the Springfield Farmers Market in Illinois. (photo credit: Representative Rodney Davis)

Renegotiation of the Farm Bill is in full swing and key federal programs that support farmers markets are on the line. One of the best ways to demonstrate the importance of farmers markets to decision makers, is to get them onsite to see the market firsthand. Before the season ends, invite your federal and state officials to a market visit.

This year’s National Farmers Market Week was a tremendous success, and included dozens of visits to farmers markets by public officials at all levels of government. These visits represent the initial successes of FMC’s increased advocacy efforts in the lead up to the 2018 farm bill. Two particularly successful visits, were those of Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) to the Old Capitol City Market in Springfield,IL and Senator Al Franken’s (D-MN) visit to the South St. Paul Farmers Market.

In this live chat, FMC Policy Specialist Ben Feldman facilitated an interactive conversation with staff from Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Illinois Farmers Market Association, Experimental Station, and the Minnesota Farmers Market Association to discuss takeaways from these visits. The conversation provided participants insight into the process and outcomes associated with hosting a successful farmers market visit.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota visits the Saint Paul Farmers Market. (photo credit: Senator Al Franken)

While some farmers market managers may find the prospect of inviting an elected official to the market daunting, it doesn’t need to be. “I was surprised how easy it was to pull off a great visit,” said Corey Chatman of Experimental Station, who will be one of the panelists for the Live Conversation “with everyone pitching in, it made for light work.”

Congressman Davis was able to tour the market, meet farmers and local food entrepreneurs, and see critical federal farmers market programs having an impact within his district. “I think seeing the SNAP and Link-Up Illinois (Illinois’ Federally funded incentive program) in action really brought the programs home for the Congressman,” According to Liz Moran Stelk, Executive Director for Illinois Stewardship Council. “He was excited to encourage his colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee to visit markets in their districts.”

See Congressman Davis speak about the importance of farmers markets in this 2 minute video from the visit: