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Farm Marketing: Reaching A Hungry Public

East Fork Farm in Madison County, N.C., earns 90% of its revenues from farmers markets. To stand out from other vendors, farmers Stephen and Dawn Robertson hand out samples and provide recipe cards.

“When I give someone a sample and a recipe card, I sell double,” says Dawn. “It takes the burden off of them to figure out how to use our products.”

Dawn Robertson looks after chickens.

Dawn Robertson looks after chickens.

Until 2013, the couple sold their eggs, chicken and lamb at four markets per week. Sales were great, but the commitment left the couple burned out and struggling to keep up with farm chores. To maximize revenues and minimize their off-farm commitments, the Robertsons dropped down to one weekend market and built a farm store.

Dawn turned to social media to build buzz about the farm, sharing photos and updates on Facebook and Instagram, and started sending a monthly newsletter with information about product availability.“People want to know what’s happening on the farm,” she says. “It’s a new way for us to market our proteins.”

Digital media is an important tool in connecting with customers, as are other technologies, such as electronic payment options and SNAP/WIC benefits. Programs like Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and mobile farmers markets have also been embraced by producers.

But such new methods of reaching customers are not for everyone. Some farmers, such as Ron Thompson of Rockwood, Ontario, stick to the basics.

Thompson doesn’t have a web site or social media presence to market the squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, beets, Swiss chard and other vegetables he grows on his 9-acre farm in Rockwood, Ontario. He doesn’t send newsletters with updates about what he’s bringing to market.

Thompson is still marketing his vegetables the same way he did in the 1970s. “I go to the farmers market on Saturday mornings,” he explains.

Thompson has been loading his pickup truck with fresh produce and driving 45 minutes to the Brampton Farmers Market for almost four decades. In the early years, he harvested less produce and sold to fewer customers. Now, he’s racing to keep up with demand at the bustling market. “I haven’t changed what I’m doing, but, all of a sudden, the market is packed and people can’t wait to get farm-fresh vegetables,” says Thompson.

Regardless of the advent of new opportunities, Thompson believes that effective farm marketing comes down to one thing: “You have to raise a good product,” he says. “Without a good product, you might sell to a customer once, but you’ll never sell to them again.”

For more on how farmers are marketing their wares, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/farm-marketing-reaching-a-hungry-public/.

Spectacular pageant of 70 tractors marks 70th anniversary of the Coventry produced Ferguson TE20

Massey Ferguson reports that enthusiastic crowds turned out to see the historic ’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.

 

The cavalcade and display of machines old and new was staged by Culture Coventry to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the start of production of the iconic Ferguson TE20 tractor. In July 1946, the first Ferguson TE20 tractor, affectionately known as the ‘Little Grey Fergie’, rolled off the assembly line at its former Banner Lane manufacturing plant in Coventry in the UK. The tractor was the brainchild of engineer and inventor, Harry Ferguson, a founder of the present-day Massey Ferguson, one of the world’s foremost   producers of farm machinery for global markets.

’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.

’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.

The tractors for the event were brought together by the Friends of Ferguson Heritage Club. Led by a 20.3hp 1947 Ferguson TE20, equipped with a 2-furrow plough, and the mighty 400hp MF 8737 – the most powerful tractor in the current Massey Ferguson line-up – the procession wound its way through Coventry finishing at Millennium Place outside the Transport Museum. Unusually, it was not the familiar Massey Ferguson red livery for the MF 8737. Instead, it had been especially prepared by Massey Ferguson with striking black paintwork – paying homage to the prototype Ferguson Black tractor of 1933 which was the first to incorporate Harry Ferguson’s pioneering ideas for a three-point linkage system to connect tractor and implement.  In a tribute to the manufacturing legacy of the Banner Lane plant, Massey Ferguson named the black MF 8737 the ‘City of Coventry’. Seated in the cab for the duration of the parade was the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Lindsley Harvard.

Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Lindsley Harvard, seated in the black ‘City of Coventry’ MF 8737.

Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Lindsley Harvard, seated in the black ‘City of Coventry’ MF 8737.

“It was a marvellous event and wonderful to see this pageant celebrating the brilliant engineering of the Ferguson TE20 which changed the world of farm mechanisation.” says Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Marketing Services (who himself drove a 1949 TEA20 tractor in the blue livery of Brighton Corporation).  “We are so proud of this superb legacy of practical and innovative technology which continues to inspire our design engineers and is at the heart of Massey Ferguson’s 21st century mission to produce straightforward, dependable equipment to increase the efficiency and productivity of farmers all over the world. Today, more than 200,000 tractors bearing our famous Massey Ferguson ‘Triple Triangle’ brand are built every year for global markets.”

Tractors taking part in the pageant showcased a wide range of Ferguson, Massey-Harris and Massey Ferguson machines produced since 1946. The tractor coming from furthest afield for the event was a 1949 Ferguson TEA20 fitted with half-track equipment which travelled nearly 200 miles from Exeter in Devon. From much closer to home was a 2015 MF 5610 Dyna-4 on turf tyres based in Finham, Coventry. A beautifully-restored, prize-winning MF 65 industrial tractor painted in the requisite yellow from Skipton, Yorkshire represented the non-agricultural ranges.

’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.

’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.

Over half a million Ferguson TE20 tractors (Tractor England) were built at the Banner Lane plant between 6 July 1946 and 13 July 1956.  Key to the global success of the tractor was its unique three-point linkage implement attachment system controlled by the tractor’s hydraulics. Designated the ‘Ferguson System,’ this effectively turned the tractor and implement into a single working unit, replacing the previous cumbersome trailed method of implement operation.

Massey Ferguson is a leading global farm machinery brand producing a full-line range of tractors, harvesting equipment and agricultural implements. Its well-known red-liveried equipment is distributed in 140 countries.

Established in 1994, The Friends of Ferguson Heritage Club has over 5000 members worldwide who are dedicated to all things Ferguson, Massey Ferguson and Massey Harris.

The Ferguson TE20’s 70th anniversary inspired Culture Coventry’s current ‘Tractors – From Factory to Field’ exhibition at Coventry Transport Museum (runs until 19 September) and the public display of the Daniel Massey Bronze Sculpture at the city’s Herbert Museum and Art Gallery. Culture Coventry manages three of Coventry’s major visitor attractions including Coventry Transport Museum, Herbert Museum and Art Gallery and the Lunt Roman Fort.

Celebrations for a Production Milestone

67,000th combine harvester to be manufactured at AGCO Breganze plant in Italy is a Massey Ferguson BETA 7370.

Massey Ferguson is celebrating production of the 67,000th combine harvester at AGCO’s Breganze Manufacturing Facility in northern Italy.

MF Beta 7370, the 67,000th combine harvester to be manufactured at the Breganze plant in Italy

MF Beta 7370, the 67,000th combine harvester to be manufactured at the Breganze plant in Italy

The 67,000th machine to roll off the assembly line is a 360hp MF BETA 7370 combine destined for work in Sweden.

The 25ha Breganze site is AGCO’s Harvesting Centre of Excellence and produces a full range of MF combine harvesters suitable for small farmers through to the high-capacity models required by large-scale agribusiness customers. Along with the MF BETA combine, these include the MF ACTIVA, MF ACTIVA S, MF CENTORA and MF DELTA.

The MF BETA 7370 taking the title of 67,000th combine is bound for Massey Ferguson Dealer GH:s Traktorcity in Östergötland, Sweden.

“Massey Ferguson combines have had a highly successful year in Sweden seeing a doubling in the number of units sold,” explains Adam Sherriff, Market Development Manager, Massey Ferguson Harvesting. “The MF BETA 7370 is our best-selling combine model in the country and features the acclaimed Skyline cab which provides excellent visibility, ergonomically-positioned controls and superb comfort to make the operator’s job easier and more productive.”

Multi-million dollar investments in recent years have transformed the AGCO Breganze plant into a world-class site. Certified to ISO standards, some of the most recent developments at the 65,000 m2 factory have seen a complete reorganisation of the supply chain and production process, the installation of new rolling and panelling machines, robot welding automated systems, a state-of-the art paint-shop and the opening of the magnificent AgriDome Visitors Centre.

Massey Ferguson combines have been in production at Breganze site since 2004. In June 2007, this partnership was further strengthened when AGCO acquired a 50% stake in Breganze-based Laverda S.p.A from the Italian Argo Group. AGCO fully acquired the plant in 2010 bringing over 50 years of combine manufacturing experience in Italy into the AGCO family. The current site was opened in 1979.

Find out more about AGCO’s Breganze Manufacturing Facility

No Strings Attached: The Benefits of Wireless Data Transfer for Growers

By Jennifer Parillo

Current Data Transfer Methods

In comparison to advancements in other industries, ranging from traffic cameras to cell phones, the current methods of transferring agricultural task data have become outdated. Farming decisions are becoming more prevalently based upon data analysis, and the ability to securely gather and transfer data has become imperative. The speed with which this data can be transferred is becoming increasingly critical as well, in order to allow producers to make quick adjustments to time sensitive tasks.Fuse_Go-Task_iPhone_Work_Order_300dpi_08282015

Most precision farming technologies currently employ USB sticks to transfer the data from the machine to the office. While this is, by definition, “wireless”, it is neither the most efficient nor the most reliable means to transport the data. Bluetooth technologies have also been used, but proximity poses a limitation, thus this does not provide a viable solution for producers managing fleets or multiple locations.

Wireless Data Transfer

The transition away from prior transfer methods to wireless means of communicating machine and agronomic data will streamline this process, allowing producers more time to use and analyze the data,   rather than spending their time and resources gathering it. Wireless data transfer is not just the fastest, but also the most secure channel to move the data both to and from the machine. Producers will no longer rely on their team of operators to manage the USB sticks housing their invaluable data, and they will have the data at their fingertips nearly immediately following the task completion. By utilizing secure servers to move the data through the pipeline, the data also cannot end up in the hands of anyone other than its intended recipient; this is of course more important when referring to agronomic data than machine data.

Benefits of Wireless Data Transfer

  • Eliminates distance as a limiting factor in the transfer of data, allowing large scale producers with widespread fleets to manage their operation from wherever they are
  • Reduces risk of lost or missing task data in FMIS from computer not downloading task data file after a job is completed
  • Better enables growers to make operational decisions due to ease and speed of gathering their data
  • Enables a faster and more efficient data sharing process with third party service providers
  • Eliminates risk of lost task data that can result from lost or damaged USB sticks
  • Reduces the amount of necessary steps taken for the producer to turn their raw data into usable information which can support their decision making process
  • Saves money and valuable time by eliminating unnecessary trips to the field and back to the office

AGCO offers unique solutions for wireless data transfer depending on the grower’s machine(s) and needs. Visit the Fuse website to learn more about our solutions, and stay tuned for the release of the new Go-TaskTM app on the Apple® App Store, coming soon.

 

Jennifer Parillo is a Global Marketing Specialist for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group (Fuse).

Shepherd’s Grain: Bridges Built, Alliances Forged

Started in 2002 by two Washington state producers, Shepherd’s Grain now includes about 60 wheat growers, mainly in the Northwestern U.S., with a few growers located as far away as Southern California and the Canadian Prairie. Although they’ve begun offering some of the milled grain at the retail level, the vast majority of what the group sells is to bakeries in Portland and Seattle. In 2015, the Shepherd’s Grain farmers produced a total of 673,000 bushels of wheat, a growth of about 720% since 2005.

“It really started,” says Mike Moran, the Shepherd’s Grain general manager, “when a lot of growers in our region realized that the way that the land had been farmed over the last few decades was not sustainable long term. In fact, because of wind and water erosion, particularly in the hilly areas of the Palouse, they were losing topsoil at a rate that meant that their families wouldn’t be able to continue to farm there if they kept doing what they were doing.”

To combat the losses, as well as improve soil health, Shepherd’s Grain farmers often work together, sharing information on what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. As a result, many have minimized, if not eliminated, tillage. For instance, Garry Esser and his son John use rotational and cover crops, and say they only till the ground every three to six years, unlike their previous practice of churning up the ground almost annually.

In addition to farming methods, Shepherd’s Grain also promotes a business model that is sustainable. Selling to bakeries via longer-term contracts, the group of farmers not only forge business relationships, but build bridges between different groups of people who often do not have much contact with each other.

“It’s really about … connecting farmers with consumers … and without that,” continues Moran, “we wouldn’t have that information flow from the consumer back to the farmer, and on the other side, really helping the consumer understand all of the complexity of farming.”

“The end users who have bought into Shepherd’s Grain have done so for a variety of reasons,” says John Esser, a Challenger customer who recently became a partner with his dad. “But I’d say at the top of the list is they’ve loved the relationship that they have with the growers.

“You know, for so many people, you go to the store, you buy bread, you go home, you eat it. Nobody really connects the farmer to the bread,” continues the younger Esser. “Shepherd’s Grain offers an opportunity for people to know the information behind where their food comes from.”

For more about how AGCO customers are involved with Shepherd’s Grain from our exclusive customer magazine, FarmLife, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/shepherds-grain-bridges-built-alliances-forged/.

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