Farmers Report More Interest in Locally Grown Food

Bob McArthur, of Marion, harvests soybeans on Neal Horning's farm in Marion on Satuday, Oct. 4, 2008. Horning has been growing soybeans on his farm for 14 years. (Amanda LaRae Larkin/The Gazette)

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By Rachel Begle

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Farmers growing food to sell locally are increasingly finding willing customers to buy their products.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, which is based at Iowa State University, says it tracked sales of 103 farmers who reported more than $10 million in local food sales in 2012. Most of the food was purchased by grocery stores, restaurants, schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes and nonprofit organizations. The organizations reported they spent just under 9 percent of their total food budget on food grown by local farmers.

The group's goal is to increase the food purchased by local organizations to 30 percent of their total food budgets. That would boost local food purchasing to more than $21 million increasing income for the farmers and encouraging them to hire additional help.

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