The Illinois Farmers Market Advertising Grant Program will
provide farmers markets up to $7,500 to help with advertising
and promotional expenses during the 2008 season. The funds were
awarded to the Illinois Department of Agriculture through the
federal specialty crop program and will be distributed as part
of Opportunity Returns, the governor's proactive, comprehensive
economic development strategy designed to spur more economic
growth and create jobs across Illinois. More than $175,000 in
total is available.
"Farmers markets are good for local
economies, good for consumers and, ultimately, good for our
entire state," Blagojevich said. "Communities that sponsor
farmers markets benefit from increased tourism, and consumers
benefit from wholesome, locally grown food. These grants will
help support and expand the state's agricultural economy."
Through Opportunity Returns, the Illinois Department of
Agriculture has invested nearly $400,000 the past three years to
expand the state's specialty crop industry. In addition to
promotional materials and advertising, specialty crop grant
funds have been used to develop an "Illinois, Where Fresh Is"
marketing campaign that brands Illinois food products and
encourages consumers to buy local and buy fresh. Illinois
farmers and specialty crop companies are eligible to use the
"Illinois, Where Fresh Is" logo to help consumers quickly and
easily identify their specialty crops at farmers markets and
"Illinois' fertile soil and favorable climate are good for
growing a wide variety of crops," Agriculture Director Chuck
Hartke said. "While most people know Illinois ranks second in
the production of corn and soybeans, many don't realize Illinois
is the nation's largest producer of pumpkins and ranks among the
top 10 states in the production of such specialty crops as
asparagus, cauliflower, fresh-cut herbs, peas, lima beans and
mustard greens. These grants will help expand markets for this
produce and increase the competitiveness of our specialty crop
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More than 220 farmers markets currently operate throughout the
state, up from 97 in 1999. According to a 2003 Illinois Specialty
Crop Survey, more than 117,000 acres of farmland is devoted to
growing specialty crops, producing nearly $137 million in sales for
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will accept applications
for the funds through Nov. 7. Application forms can be obtained at
www.agr.state.il.us or by calling Kim Janssen at 217-785-5848.
Grants will be awarded by Feb. 1, 2008.
Blagojevich's Opportunity Returns regional economic development
strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating
jobs in Illinois' history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to
economic development just doesn't work, the governor has divided the
state into 10 regions, each with a regional team that is empowered
and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges.
Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each
region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and
more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of
the local work force, increasing the access to capital, opening new
markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs.
Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies
and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach
its economic potential.
[Text from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]