You can now buy food directly from Mississippi farmers, ranchers during COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s how.

Published 10:32 am Friday, May 8, 2020

Mississippi residents have a new way to buy a carton of eggs, basket of blueberries or a jar of honey direct from local farmers and other suppliers.

Department of Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson announced Thursday the Mississippi Farm Marketplace website to make sure people in Mississippi can get fresh food during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gipson signed an order during Thursday that immediately allows farmers to sell a portion of an animal, such as a side of beef, directly to consumers.

The Mississippi Farm Marketplace is an online marketing portal that gives farmers a place to list commodities they have for sale while providing consumers a location to easily source local products. The portal can be accessed at MSFarmMarketplace.com, where a variety of commodities can be listed including produce, meats, dairy products, honey, live animals for custom slaughter, eggs, aquaculture, seafood, and horticulture products. In addition, the portal contains a listing of on-farm jobs available.

“I encourage farmers and ranchers that have crops and other commodities that they need to sell to utilize the Mississippi Farm Marketplace. This is a valuable tool to connect with consumers that are looking to buy direct from growers,” Gipson said. “And, I also want to encourage all Mississippians to go to the website to find local products. This is a great resource to source local products for food banks, restaurants, schools, retailers, wholesalers, and anyone else that is looking to buy local.”

The new Mississippi Farm Marketplace is one of the steps Gipson outlined in a press conference. The steps are being taken by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce to strengthen the state’s food supply chain in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The country’s food supply chain continues to function in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, labor issues in other states, coupled with shifting demands as restaurants and schools have closed, have strained the supply chain,” Gipson said.  “In Mississippi, our food supply is abundant, plentiful and safe; thanks to our hardworking farmers. It is imperative that we take steps that will provide new market opportunities for our farmers, while simultaneously providing consumers with avenues to purchase directly from farmers. These steps are all part of keeping our food supply diverse and secure.”

Gipson signed an emergency rule increasing the number of owners an animal may have when utilizing custom slaughter. The 120-day emergency rule will expire; however, the Department will file a regular rule change to make this a permanent rule.

“This action to remove the limit of four owners will provide additional options for both farmers and consumers,” Gipson said,