UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State has developed an interactive World Wide Web site for Pennsylvania agriculture that helps consumers, farmers and businesses find local producers of commodities and services.
Called AgMap, the Web site’s address is http://agmap.psu.edu.
The site offers a searchable database that includes products grown or made around the Keystone State, allowing users to locate goods near their home, farm or business.
The site includes complete descriptions of these products and provides information about how to find and contact the growers and producers directly.
Pennsylvania is a national leader in agricultural production, with products ranging from apples to wood being shipped around the world. Yet many Pennsylvanians don’t even realize what is being grown within a few miles of their homes, laments Rick Day, AgMap project director and associate professor of soil science and environmental information systems in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
“Local farmers may not be aware that the resources they need are available in the next county,” he said, “and area businesses and consumers that use agricultural products might not know that what they need is available locally.”
Behind the scenes, Penn State’s Land Analysis Lab and the cooperative extension global positioning program maintains a Web-enabled database that is linked to a geographic information system, letting users easily search for farms, farm products and services based on how close they are to the user.
The system has been designed to be extremely easy to use. The information included in AgMap comes directly from the farmers and industry. To enter information about their businesses, farmers just follow a few simple steps.
“We’re confident that AgMap will be good for the state’s agricultural industry,” Day said, “and that farmers, other producers and agricultural service providers will want to be on the map.
“It will improve direct marketing between producers and consumers and will help keep marginal operations in business.”
AgMap allows users to search for agricultural services based on location, products and service types. A consumer might find places off the beaten path that offer locally grown produce, trees and other products at a low cost.
For instance, if a consumer is looking for a farm to pick strawberries, he or she can visit the AgMap Web site, enter a home location and ask for a search of all strawberry growers within a 20-mile radius.
AgMap will return a list of all the farms that meet the criterion – as well as a map showing how to get to the farms from the consumer’s home.
In addition to helping farmers and buyers find each other, AgMap provides a communications network among agricultural businesses in Pennsylvania. This network allows producers to identify and contact other producers who offer similar products and services, which offers several benefits.
For market analysis, businesses can use AgMap to determine locations of competitors and to determine voids in services where new businesses might be successful.
In emergency situations such as droughts, producers with products for sale will be able to find and contact other producers who need products.
In cases of plant or animal disease outbreaks, producers will be able to contact similar producers to help determine how they are dealing with adverse conditions.
For more information about AgMap contact Rick Day at 814-863-1615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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