Increasing the Effectiveness of Field Agent Response to Producer Requests for Alternative Marketing Assistance

2007 Annual Report for EW04-006

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $95,939.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Western
State: New Mexico
Principal Investigator:

Increasing the Effectiveness of Field Agent Response to Producer Requests for Alternative Marketing Assistance


This project builds on the established Southwest Marketing Network (SWMN) that supports alternative marketing in the Four Corners States. A conference will be held each year to increase agents’ alternative marketing knowledge, build capacity to respond to inquiries, and establish working relationships among agents, specialists, and producers. Electronic communications among participants will be established and continued throughout the two years to maintain continuity in the discussions and learning. A guide to responding to requests for alternative marketing assistance will be prepared from the findings of the work sessions, disseminated widely, and posted on the SWMN website.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The project objectives are: 1) To increase the ability of agents (and similar service providers) to provide well-informed initial responses to producers asking for advice with alternative marketing questions, and to make referrals as appropriate. 2) To help agents better understand the unique marketing needs of small-scale and minority producers, and 3) To allow agents to establish familiarity and good working relationships across state and reservation borders in order to maximize resources available to assist producers.

The idea is not to make these agents into marketing experts, but to allow them as non-marketing specialists to help producers find the help they need. In addition to 30 or so agents from AZ, CO, NM, & UT, we will have several marketing specialists and producers to help identify needs, issues, effective techniques, and resources. We expect that all will be learners and all will be trainers in this project.

Information generated at the workshop will be used to produce a draft handbook and web materials for use by agents. Participants will be asked to review these materials to ensure their usefulness. They will be further tested and refined at a similar training workshop in the second year.


Since the last report in August, we have been revising our website, planning the 2007 SWMN Annual Conference, inviting our “PDP Participants,” and implementing the Conference and the second annual PDP Workshop.

Over summer and fall of 2006, we moved the SWMN website to a new hosting and webmastering location in Durango, Colorado. The new URL is . NCAT had successfully developed and hosted the SWMN website since its inception in 2002, and it was very functional and well maintained. However, as part of our strategic plan to bring Network functions into the region, we made the migration this past year. This presented an opportunity to revisit the navigational structure and needed elements to make the site even more effective for our users. These enhancements, a few of which are still being implemented, should ensure that the web resources being developed under this project will be more effective for agents in our region. A private section of the website has been established for our PDP participants.

Planning for the 2007 SWMN Annual Conference, which is the setting for the agent training under this project, began last summer. The workshop devoted exclusively to this project’s participants and the 24 other workshops, of which they could select five to attend, were developed and speakers obtained during this period.

Agents, marketing specialists, and producers were invited specifically as “PDP Participants” with the expectation that they would attend the PDP workshop, a follow-up breakfast meeting, and the full conference. We placed special emphasis on tribal producers and agents and participants from each of the 1994 Tribal Land Grants in the region.

We had a total of 38 participants; 27 registered under this project to receive the assistance package of registration, lodging, and travel stipend. Eleven additional walk-in participants attended. Seventeen actual agents attended, but several other similar service providers were included as well. We had representatives of six of the eight Land Grant Institutions in the region, and a large number of tribal producers and service providers.

We had hoped for more agent participation. We released a “save the date” announcement for the conference and the “PDP workshop” in July to about 3200 people, but a few of the agents who attended last year were not added to the database by mistake. We were also late in getting the final registration brochure out. In spite of the lower numbers, we feel that we had an excellent set of participants and a well-rounded group. We were also encouraged by the additional travel support offered by Gerald Chacon (NM), Rick Gibson (AZ), and Dennis Lamm (CO).

An agenda for the 26 March workshop is attached. Participants who had not attended last year were given a pre-test survey, as last year, at the beginning of the workshop. Presentations on specific alternative marketing topics not to be covered in the rest of the conference were given. The remainder of the workshop was devoted to a detailed presentation and discussion of a guidance document we developed from initial discussions from the March 2006 workshop by Dawn Thilmany of CSU. This fact sheet is designed to help agents determine how much assistance they can and should give to producers with alternative marketing questions, and will be an integral part of our final guidance for agents. Feedback forms were gathered from participants at the end of the workshop.

Participants were then able to attend five workshops as part of the overall conference on a variety of alternative marketing topics. The full list of workshops and speakers can be found in the conference brochure at A Wednesday morning breakfast meeting was held to introduce several additional marketing specialists who were attending the conference.

Remaining Tasks:

April 2007: Pre-test survey, discussion notes, and feedback forms from March workshop analyzed.

May – June 2007: Presentation PowerPoints from March workshop posted on web. Thilmany fact sheet expanded and sent out to participants for review. “Alternative Marketing Topics” resources and “Directory of Alternative Marketing Expertise” for website initiated.

July-August 2007: Feedback requested from participants on website resources, and adjustments and additions incorporated.

September 2007: Final Draft of Marketing Assistance Guide for agents sent to participants for review.

Oct-Nov 2007: Final Marketing Assistance Guide completed. Final evaluation survey distributed to participants.

Dec 2007: Final project report prepared.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Once completed, this project should enable agents to assist producers in initiating and implementing alternative marketing strategies. This assistance will be extended either from the agent themselves, from those to whom the agent refers the producer, or a combination of the two. Successful implementation should help producers achieve greater diversification and hopefully greater profit.

In that the majority of alternative marketing initiatives are in response to consumer demands for safer, more nutritious food that is sustainably produced, consumers should benefit directly through products more aligned to their needs and values and indirectly through a healthier environment and community around them.


Russ Tronstad

Assoc Ext Specialist
The University of Arizona
Department of Agriculture & Resource Economics
Jim Dyer
WSARE PDP Marketing Training Proj Co-coordinator
Southwest Marketing Network
2727 CR 134
Hesperus, CO 81326
Office Phone: 9705882292
Le Adams

Farm to Table
Santa Fe, NM
Dennis Lamm

Professor Animal Science & Extension Specialist
Colorado State University
Gerald Chacon

Northern District Director
New Mexico State University Extension
Pam Roy

Farm to Table
Santa Fe, NM
Dan Drost

Assoc. Prof. Horticulture & Ext. Vegetable Spclst
Utah State University