Laura Johnson has worked at the Department assisting Idaho food and beverage producers for over 30 years. The mission of the market development program is to promote, connect, and educate Idaho producers to help them grow their marketplace. She began her career working in domestic market development programs targeting farmers markets, specialty foods and organics. She developed the first “Starting a Food Business in Idaho” manual for craft food producers that is now in its 19th edition. She oversaw the creation of the Idaho Preferred program that was launched in 2003. The program is focused on linking Idaho farm and food products with consumers, retailers, restaurants, schools and distributors. As a member of the Idaho state team, she will support technical assistance programs in various areas including connecting producers with middle of the supply chain customers and market diversification as well as assisting with efforts to provide capacity building grants to food businesses in the state.