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State: Website links fishers, farmers, buyers

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News,Business,Agriculture,Internet

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The state Office of Community Development is touting the online Louisiana MarketMaker program that provides a database of local fishers, farmers and food retailers, matching food producers with consumer markets and thus potential buyers.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports (http://bit.ly/1lSbFs9) the office's Disaster Recovery Unit provided a three-year, $125,000 grant to the LSU AgCenter to get the service up and running.

On Tuesday, the state said the website had more than 4.6 million hits since it launched in June 2010 through April — much more than its initial goal of 100,000.

Anybody in Louisiana with a product to sell — seafood, citrus, pecans, strawberries or other items — can establish an account on the site for free.

Potential buyers then can find them through the site's Google-based searchable database. It's similar to a matchmaking service, allowing buyers and sellers to find one another.

Nearly 21,000 Louisiana food businesses and 500 agribusinesses have signed up with the site, the state said.

"We knew that our fishermen and shrimpers took a real hit from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and we knew we needed to help them in a way that would make the industry more sustainable for the long term," said Pat Forbes, the director of the state Office of Community Development.

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

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