An informational meeting will be held on Sept. 1 from 10:30 a.m. until noon, in 212 Efferson Hall on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, to introduce a direct marketing service that could benefit many Louisiana producers.

Darlene Knipe, with the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, will demonstrate and answer questions about MarketMaker, an Internet-based direct marketing tool from the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension.

The service provides sellers (producers) an efficient means of communicating product availability to potential buyers. It also provides buyers with a convenient internet search tool to locate products they want directly from producers.

Twelve states are currently part of this service with another two, Florida and Arkansas, getting ready to come online. For a state to be able to promote its producers, it must pay a fee.

John Westra, associate professor in the LSU Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, and others are currently seeking funding for this service so Louisiana producers can benefit.

Typical sellers using the program are direct marketers of agricultural products, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, meats and seafood, and ornamental plants. Sellers promote through written descriptions, postings, and Web links.

Buyers use keywords to search for products. Typical buyers might be individuals, farmers markets, wholesalers, or institutions looking for products with special attributes such as heritage varieties, locally and/or organically produced, or others.

MarketMaker also provides basic and advanced market analysis options, including a database with demographics that can be used to identify population segments likely to be purchasers. The service is free to buyers and sellers. Users do not buy or sell directly through MarketMaker.

More on the program can be found at http://national.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/.

Westra can be contacted at (225)578-2721.