‘Buy Nevada’ foods program recording membership growth
Buy Nevada is marking its one-year anniversary and its 100th member.
The Nevada Department of Agriculture program promotes the state’s agricultural industry and is working to build a statewide network of farms, ranches, food processors, restaurants and retailers in an effort to keep Nevada dollars circulating in the state.
To that end, the program just filmed a promotional ad with first lady Kathleen Sandoval which is slated to air statewide next month. It is working to get some of its members’ products into concessions at Nevada state parks and promoted in area grocery stores. And it just unveiled a redesigned Nevada specialty license plate touting the state’s farming economy, the purchase of which helps fund the program.
Buy Nevada was launched last summer after a state-sponsored report for the first time quantified Nevada’s ag industry, pegging it at $5.3 billion.
“We basically saw a need to have a program to support that industry and it was not happening at the time,” says Bob Conrad, public information officer at the department and part of the team that manages the Nevada Buy program.
Since then, the program has signed up at least 100 members, from distributors such as Davidson’s Organic Tea in Sparks to farms, dairies and ranches such as Lattin Farms and Sand Hill Dairy, both in Fallon, and Rawhide Ranch, which raises longhorn cattle in Luning. Member restaurants include Bistro 7, Bricks and The Cheese Board in Reno. Among retailers, members include Gardnerville’s Battle Born Wine, Black Rock Mud Company in Gerlach and the Great Basin Food Co-op in Reno.
Great Basin is one of the grocery stores that sells and promotes Buy Nevada members’ foods with displays and labeling.
Last week the program was getting ready to deliver similar banners to Scolari’s Food & Drug Co., another Buy Nevada member, says Conrad.
The program is also encouraging members to contact Nicki Kendrick, who is in charge of concession sales at Nevada State Parks, about selling some products, such as packaged in park stores.
So far, about eight members have reached out and their products may be seen soon on concession shelves in Valley of Fire, Lake Tahoe’s Sand Harbor, Spring Mountain Ranch and Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, says Conrad.
Buy Nevada has several levels of membership and the bulk of its members join for free to receive use of the Buy Nevada logo and promotion on the program’s web site and Facebook page. About a quarter of the members, says Conrad, have opted for one of three paid membership levels that include other benefits such as marketing tips, a certificate signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval and promotional video featured on the Buy Nevada Web site.
The more members the better, says Conrad, who is in charge of recruiting all kinds of ag partners, even growers of the state’s biggest crop, alfalfa. “If we can connect alfalfa growers with dairy operations, then that’s another win,” says Conrad. “It’s about keeping those dollars in the state as much as we can.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.