- Animals: sheep
- Farm Business Management: marketing management, value added
- Sustainable Communities: community services, social networks
Vermont has both many small livestock producers seeking markets and communities of resettled ethnic populations seeking consistent livestock supply under unique conditions. The problem is how to math producers and ethnic populations. At present, both suppliers and potential customers are largely unaware of each other or do not understand each others needs. This proposal locates ethnic groups and sponsors, researches the specific needs of several significant ethnic populations in Vermont, researches the availability of livestock and on-farm facilities for distribution, then makes information available to ethnic groups and to livestock producers through various in-place organizations. Much of Vermont’s livestock is produced by small, diversified operations loosely organized by producer associations such as the VSBA. Producers don’t generally do a lot of advertising and many us us sell exclusively through reputation, casual contact with potential customers and happenstance. Organizations such as the VSBA create market outlets, for example through periodic lamb sales, but dollar return can be disappointing. There are few slaughterhouses in Vermont and these are expensive, appointments often must be made some weeks in advance and transport can be a problem for some producers. At the same time, there are large recently relocated ethnic populations throughout the state and these people prefer live animals to custom-processed. However, demand is sporadic, the customer often arrives unannounced and at an inconvenient time and language barriers present problems. Many sheep producers are women and many ethnic groups frankly have gender-biases against women. As well, many ethnic populations expect to bargain on price, while many producers are unaccustomed to this method of transaction. Both producer and customer can feel awkward, even when they find each other, a situation which certainly inhibits commerce. This project will 1) identify significant ethnic populations in Vermont, 2) identify ethnic needs and expectations, 3) make information available to producers so that producers can better deal with ethnic populations and 4) provide ethnic populations with information regarding producers who might meet their needs. By creating awareness and fostering understanding of existing demand and supply, producer business is bound to increase. With increased business the profitability of farming should also improve for individual farmers.