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Study Finds Support For Local Farm Products



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Study Finds Support For Local Farm Products

STORRS (AP) –– Connecticut residents would pay more for local farm products if they knew where they were sold, a new study from the University of Connecticut says.

But most people do not know where to buy it, or what it looks like.

According to study figures, 75 percent said they prefer products produced locally. The majority of respondents said they believe locally grown produce is usually healthier.

Fewer than half of respondents, however, said they could actually identify local produce when shopping. Only 13 percent of respondents said they knew milk was produced locally.

“There’s a perception and awareness issue that needs to be worked on,” said Christopher Barnes, an associate director at the Center for Survey Research & Analysis.

The awareness problem is particularly hitting the dairy industry, Barnes said. Sixty percent of survey respondents said they would be willing to pay up to 20 cents more per gallon if they knew it would help local dairy farmers.

A representative from the Connecticut Food Association, which represents major grocery chains, convenience stores, distributors, wholesalers, and specialty food producers, was not immediately available to comment on the study.

The study was commissioned by the Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor Inc, in response to a trend of struggling dairy farms in the region, according to Executive Director and CEO Charlene Perkins-Cutler.

Previous research from the University of Connecticut has said that most consumers are overpaying for milk, and the money is not going to benefit the farmers.

Without support for local farms, the state’s farmland and local produce could disappear, researchers said. Barnes said the research indicated that state residents were just as interested in preserving open space as getting the freshest produce possible.

“When you buy something third-, fourth-, fifth-hand, when you look that person in the eyes and hand them the money, it’s not the person who grew the food,” Ms Perkins-Cutler said.

US Rep Rob Simmons said better marketing measures can help state residents identify local products. Stores should set aside sections for local products, he said, and give local produce items special stickers.

“As a matter of public policy, we have to be prepared to promote our produce,” Simmons said.

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