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Hannaford Supermarkets yesterday became the first grocer in the country to introduce the “Keep Local Farms” initiative at all 171 of its stores. The program is designed to assist in fundraising for local Northeast dairy farmers; ensure a local, fresh supply of milk; and give shoppers a way to support local dairy farmers and the local food network they help to preserve.
“Hannaford [already] enjoys strong relationships with local farms and local food producers through our ‘Close to Home’ initiative,” noted Wendy Ward, local sourcing specialist for Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford, a division of Delhaize. “[Keep Local Farms] will help sustain local farmers, support the local economy and reduce our carbon footprint.”
Rolled out in September 2009 and inspired by the Fair Trade programs implemented in developing nations for such crops as cacao, coffee and bananas, Keep Local Farms is a part of a broad effort to link consumers with dairy farmers through education and direct support. The program’s goals are to promote the benefits dairy farms offer to the local community and economy, generate a stable income for dairy farmers, and secure current farmlands for generations to come. To that end, the initiative is forming partnerships with retailers, universities and health care providers.
“Over the past decade, we have seen multigenerational dairy farms close down because of low milk prices and the rising costs to run a dairy farm,” said Gary Wheelock, CEO of the New England Dairy Promotion Board, which administers the program along with the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council and the New England Family Dairy Farms Cooperative. “The Keep Local Farms program aims to create awareness for the struggling dairy farmer and educates consumers on how they can help to keep the supply of locally produced milk intact now and in the future.”
Since 1990, two-thirds of New England dairy farms have ceased operations, leaving fewer than 2,000 local farms in the region, according to the progam.
Hannaford will feature Keep Local Farms promotional materials in its stores and provide opportunities for shoppers to contribute to the initiative. For more information about the Keep Local Farms, visit www.keeplocalfarms.org.
Employing over 27,000 associates, Hannaford operates stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Most locations have full-service pharmacies and all stores feature “Guiding Stars,” a pioneering storewide nutrition navigation system.