Posts Tagged ‘Agriculture’
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.”
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.”
By: Ben Craker
A unique event in the ag industry returned to Lincoln, Nebraska; the annual spring “Plugfest” took place the week of May 9th, hosted by the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory. Plugfest is a twice a year meeting between member companies of the Agriculture Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF). The spring event is held every year in Lincoln and the fall Plugfest is hosted at different locations in Europe, planned for Bologna, Italy in September this year. Read the rest of this entry »
Most farmers view seeding as the most important task they complete each year. With few exceptions, the old axiom, “How you start is how you’ll end,” holds true in crop production. If seed is not planted at a uniform depth, into moisture and with proper seed furrow closure, it will come up erratically at best. Poor spacing and uneven emergence are two major yield limiters that must be avoided. At the same time, it’s important to get the crop in the ground in time to take advantage of the growing season, while there is still moisture for the crop to germinate and emerge. In addition, many growers are expanding their acreage to spread fixed costs and improve profitability, which puts even more pressure on the need for efficiency and accuracy at seeding. Fortunately, both the Sunflower 9800 series single disk drill and the White 9800VE series planter lineup combined with the power and precision of Fendt tractors solve these problems with ease.
For AGCO customer Barry Schmitt, the disastrous 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan hit close to his Olds, Alberta-based business. “We were shipping hay to one of our customers in Japan when the tsunami hit,” says the owner of Barr-Ag, a hay producer and export company.
According to Schmitt, he and his staff had been in communication with the customer like normal, then, suddenly, nothing. As news of the catastrophe and its scope began to break—some 16,000 people were killed and it caused a nuclear reactor meltdown—Schmitt feared the worst. “These are friends of ours who we go and see, and talk to. We were worried.”
Just outside the tiny township of Strykersville, N.Y. sits Fontaine Farms, the highly regarded dairy operation run by brothers Jim and Steve Fontaine. In March, the snowbanks around the barn haven’t quite thawed, and for Jim and Steve, the colder it is, the better: the fresh milk cools quickly and helps maintain the quality of the product for which the Fontaines are known.
Last winter, the business was coming off three straight years as a National Dairy Quality Award winner, and until this summer, they were riding a streak of more than 70 months straight of somatic cell counts (SCC) below 100,000. It’s an impressive run, for sure, in a region where dairies are numerous and competitive.