Two Arkansans testified at today’s Senate Agriculture Committee hearing exploring how U.S. policy can assist the development of local markets for farmers.

Jody Hardin, a fifth-generation family farmer from Grady and Ronald McCormick, Senior Director of Sustainable Agriculture at Walmart, testified today at a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee hearing exploring how U.S. policy can assist in developing local markets for farmers.

Hardin’s testimony focused on his experiences selling directly to consumers through community supported agriculture programs and the challenges to continued growth in local marketing of produce. Among the barriers Hardin called to the Committee’s attention were: the need for a local marketing promotion program to raise awareness of the opportunities for farmers to sell their products locally and consumers to buy fresh locally-grown goods; the lack of a level playing field for wireless food retailers, like farmers’ markets, to serve low-income Americans; and the amount of funding for grant programs for training farmers and small processor on food safety measures.

McCormick discussed Walmart’s challenges and successes working with their suppliers in their locally-grown produce sourcing company. Among the success stories mentioned in his testimony was the effort to unite some small growers in South Arkansas to establish a co-op to reach large retailers, cut down on their overhead through shared use of expense equipment and allows them to leverage economies of scale.

Video of U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, introducing Hardin and McCormick: