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SCDA’s New Market Development Team Works to Match Producers and Buyers


Left: Fire Ant Farms on Johns Island grows fresh vegetables like kale, collards, specialty peppers, turnips, carrots and more. They’ve succeeded during the pandemic by selling at their local farmers market with occasional wholesale opportunities.

Center: As a food hub, retailer and eatery, Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery is a key buyer for many Upstate producers.

Right: Crescent Farm is an organic farm in Clinton that operates a CSA, sells to local retailers like Swamp Rabbit Café, and is also interested in selling to schools and hospitals to help feed their local community. SCDA recently connected the farm with a Columbia wholesaler looking for sweet potatoes for a school cafeteria.


Farm Connection

SCDA’s New Market Development Team Works to Match Producers and Buyers

Story by Eva Moore  •  Photos by Katie Pfeiffer

This story appears in the November 19, 2020 issue of the South Carolina Market Bulletin.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture has created a new Market Development team to unite the department’s retail merchandising and specialty crop outreach efforts.

The team’s goal is to help match up producers with appropriate markets – retail, wholesalers, food hubs, and others – as well as to help them identify resources to build their capacity and reach new markets.

Since forming, the team has been spending some time on the road visiting farms around the state.

“We’re trying to get out and meet more of these midsize farmers,” says Katie Pfeiffer, Market Development Coordinator for SCDA and the leader of the new team. “A lot of people don’t know we offer certain services and funding, or that I have contacts in the buyer world.” She also likes to keep new and existing farms on her radar for when buyers call looking for a particular product.

The department administers several Specialty Crop Block Grant funding opportunities that can help farms reach new markets, such as cost share grants for organic certification and cold storage installation. LauraKate McAllister, director of the South Carolina Specialty Crop Growers Association and a member of the Market Development team, helps connect farmers with these opportunities.

In addition, the department’s Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship (ACRE) program offers competitive programs and funding to help entrepreneurs develop their businesses.

Beginning next year, SCDA will also be offering a Specialty Crop Block Grant to cover part of the registration fees for producers to attend trade shows and marketing events. Having more South Carolina companies present at these regional events can help increase opportunities for economic development in the state’s specialty crop industry, says Pfeiffer.

The department also creates opportunities to facilitate relationship-building like the Certified South Carolina Grower-Buyer Mash Up scheduled for March 22 at the State Farmers Market.


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