The USDA is launching a pilot program in which commercial farmers can sell corn or soybeans at grocery stores.
The Agricultural Marketing Service will allow farmers to bring their crops to stores that are owned by a third-party and sell them directly to customers.
The program is designed to help the nation’s largest food service companies expand their reach.
Agricultural Marketing Service director Paul O’Brien said the USDA has been working to establish a system for selling products that are grown, processed, packaged and sold for a period of at least five years, and is working to expand that to allow other food service businesses to join the program.
Agri-Growers for Sustainable Nutrition President Dave Womack said the agency’s focus on selling products made from local, sustainably-grown crops, which make up a majority of the U.S. crop production, is one of the most important things that farmers have to continue to grow their business.
Agrianomedia CEO Michael McGlone said the move is about helping agribusinesses compete with the big food chains, like Walmart, that sell their products in bulk.
“What we see here is that the agri-growers have really put their foot down,” he said.
“It’s about getting into the grocery stores and selling directly to the consumer.”