- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana agriculture officials hope to tap into the local food movement with a new campaign to market the state’s produce, meat, dairy products, beer and wine and other products, they said Tuesday.

The “Indiana Grown” campaign will connect producers with restaurants, grocers, farmers’ markets, processors and other businesses. Starting this month, consumers will begin seeing “Indiana Grown” decals highlighting products that are grown, produced and processed in the state.

“Indiana Grown is the first statewide, state-supported program that creates a clear understanding as to where products are farmed, produced and/or processed in Indiana,” Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney said in a news release. “Indiana Grown is aimed at lifting up the state’s robust food and beverage industry by providing the necessary tools to further promote local products to Hoosier consumers.”

More than 35 other states already have similar state-branding programs, the department said.

Less than 10 percent of the $16 billion annually that Hoosiers spend on food comes from inside the state, despite it being the 10th-largest farm state, with 60,000 farms covering 15 million acres, it said.

“Indiana has been a bit slow to address this issue. The statewide initiative will have dramatic effects on the purchase of local products,” Indiana Grown program manager David King told The Indianapolis Star. “Some states purchase twice as many homegrown products as people do in Indiana. I’m confident we will see a significant increase over the next five years.”

More than 100 farmers, producers, processors, artisans, retailers, grocers, restaurants and specialty food stores already have joined the campaign, King said. They include Connersville-based Lifeline Farms.

“Indiana has tremendous untapped potential in this market and this will help keep smaller family farms,” Lifeline President Alex Carroll told the Star. “Some of those are 100 or 150 acres, so if they don’t get a niche market they’re going to disappear.”

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