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Farmer's Marketing: Growing Products and Profit | North American Farmer

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Farmer’s Marketing: Growing Products and Profit

by Darla Noble

Farmer's marketingWho has the most to gain or lose from the productivity of your farm? You do, of course. So who is the best person to represent your farm when it comes to selling what you produce? You are, of course.

Whether it’s soybeans or sheep, geraniums or goats you can grow your profit at the same time as you’re growing everything else. All it takes is a little research, some networking and a bit of creativity.

Don’t let the word “research” scare you. Using the internet, find out what your state has to offer in the way of agricultural promotional programs. Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Texas are just a few of the states that offer free or low-cost advertising and selling opportunities to their agricultural producers. These opportunities may include website and catalog listings sent to companies in an effort raise awareness and sales, organized farmer’s markets, stores that feature state-made products and assistance with connecting producers with manufacturers. Example: a local berry farm providing fresh berries and home-made jam to a locally owned diner.

Other avenues worth researching are online stores which cater to selling agricultural products and value-added products. Value-added products are products made from what you raise. Examples: 1. Bedding plants-decorative hanging baskets 2. Pecans-candied or roasted nuts and pecan butter 3. Vegetables-relishes, sauces or dried veggie chips. Local Harvest (www.localharvest.org) is an excellent online source for selling to people you’d never reach otherwise. There is no charge to “set up” your store, but they do charge a small commission on what you sell. It’s minimal, however, and the exposure and sales potential far outweigh the cost.

Networking is just a fancy word for talking to everyone you know and almost everyone you don’t. Get to know your local farm service agent and the people who own/operate the local farm supply and feed stores. Not only will they be more apt to come to the assistance of someone they know, but will likely refer people to you. Join and participate in grower/producer associations on the state, regional and national level. Introducing new bloodlines into your herd or flock is more successful when you know who and where you’re purchasing your new genetics from. Associations are generally the first to find out about match-funds, grants, government payouts, and other financial assistance; any of which can provide operating capital and. These organizations also provide opportunities to showcase your farm in a variety of forums, provide scholarships for your children’s college education and provide opportunities to stay on top of what’s happening in the agricultural world and your industry in particular. Don’t be timid when it comes to talking with other small business owners in your area about teaming up to buy and sell locally grown products. Getting to know the local florist(s) is something every greenhouse owner needs to do. Providing them with locally grown plants and flowers is a win-win to you both. Pumpkin and gourd producers can do the same, selling their bounty wholesale to florists and the local farm store, making their farm more cost effective than it would be by selling a few each week at the farmer’s market.

Creativity another word for ingenuity or resourcefulness. A resourceful farmer is one who thinks outside the box when it comes to selling what he produces. He/she will increase profits by:

  1. Developing agritourism opportunities. For information on the ins and outs of agritourism, visit the state agriculture websites for the states of Missouri, North Carolina, Kentucky or Oklahoma.
  2. Team up with your local and regional FFA and 4-H chapters to use your farm for educational opportunities. Providing informational packets and farm tours for a small fee, and/or renting livestock or land for their projects can be beneficial to everyone involved.
  3. Increase your farm’s visibility via a website (there are several options for making your own free or low-cost site), brochures, annual farm day, farmer’s markets and signage on the road and on your vehicles.

Marketing is nothing more than letting people know what you have, why they should have it too and why they should get it from you. Taking this upon yourself only makes sense (and ultimately, dollars, too) since you’re the one who has the most to gain or lose from doing so.

About The Author

Darla Noble

Darla Noble is a freelance writer and agricultural specialist. She and her family have played a prominent role in Missouri and Mid West agriculture; predominantly in the production and marketing of sheep, value-added agricultural programs and the agri-tourism industry. They've been named MO Farm Family and their farm has been featured in several publications.