October 15, 2007

CRAPO CITES BENEFITS OF IDAHO COOPERATIVES

Farm-Market programs active in Hagerman, Wood River Valley, Lost River areas

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is praising the work behind new farm-to-market cooperatives in Idaho that recently obtained federal funding and could be an economic and business model for others to follow. Hagerman I.D.E.A. (Improvement, Development, Education and Appreciation) Incorporated is receiving a $60,294 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the "Idaho's Bounty" cooperative program. The cooperative serves much of southern Idaho, benefiting workers and customers in the Hagerman Valley and Wood River Valley areas, as well as the Buhl, Gooding, Shoshone, Fairfield and Richfield areas. Crapo has also signed a letter of support for the planning behind the Lost Rivers Brand Marketing Cooperative planned to serve the Lost River Valley area of eastern Idaho.

Crapo, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit, today praised the forward-thinking efforts of those behind the Idaho cooperatives for expanding markets for Idaho products, creating jobs, and improving the economy of their local areas.

"Initiatives like the Idaho's Bounty program are built on small business and agriculture working together to find new markets for Idaho products," Crapo said. "By working to develop consensus on marketing, more people in the community become part of the product and that product reaches more people in the long run. I applaud the local efforts and the fact that federal assistance will encourage the technology which will allow Idaho products to be marketed to an expanded audience."

The Hagerman I.D.E.A. Inc. website states, "Given the complex nature and high energy demands of our nation's food production and distribution system, recent concerns about food safety, and a growing desire on the part of consumers to have access to high-quality, natural and locally-produced foods, the time appears to us to be right to promote local food crop production, educate consumers about the health benefits of fresh local foods…and facilitate establishment of a local food marketing and distribution cooperative." Hagerman I.D.E.A., Inc. Executive Director Jim Scott said, "It has been a pleasure working with the members of the Idaho's Bounty Steering Committee and having the invaluable assistance of Polly Huggins, our local Resource Conservation and Development Coordinator in submitting the application for the USDA FMPP Grant. We are also very grateful for the volunteer help and tremendous, local grassroots support that has been given to this project."

Local producers involved in the cooperative include M&M Heath Farms, Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese, King's Crown Organic Farms, River Grove Herbs and Desert Edge Organic. The website for the cooperative is http://idahosbounty.org.

Lost Rivers Economic Development is partnering with the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Washington State to develop a marketing cooperative that would allow the producers of specialty food and craft items made in Idaho's Lost River Valley to market and deliver products beyond the geographic area. Planning for expansion of that co-op effort is now underway.

Crapo noted the federal co-op grants are critical for smaller producers who would have difficulty raising the resources to market their homegrown produce to a larger audience. "This is all about the family farmers and American enterprise," Crapo said.