Developing a Producers' Cooperative and Market for Free-Range Poultry

2000 Annual Report for FS00-119

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2000: $9,672.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:
Andy Lee
Good Earth Organic Farm

Developing a Producers' Cooperative and Market for Free-Range Poultry


Many small-scale pasture-based poultry producers across the South are part of a quickly emerging niche industry. This niche market holds the promise of increased farm income and greater small-farm sustainability. The products of these farms are “hand raised”, therefore they require a higher sales price, and consumers that are willing and able to pay extra money for products they perceive to be healthier, tastier, and more humanely raised. Currently most individual small-scale pasture-based poultry producers rely on local consumers to buy their products, thus limiting the potential growth of this new niche industry.

As more farmers begin growing organic and free-range poultry, they are beginning to compete directly with each other in an effort to capture the customers in their locale. At the same time, retail stores in larger cities cannot buy enough local organic and free-range poultry to meet their needs.

This producer will conduct a marketing survey that will give us clear baseline estimates of how much organic and free-range poultry is currently sold in his marketing area. He will determine how much additional organic and free-range poultry could be sold in his region if there were a reliable source.

In his producer grant project he will determine if a producers’ cooperative would be able to serve that market. He will then use this information to design and develop a organic and free-range poultry producers’ cooperative. He will hold a field day to introduce food retailers and poultry growers, and to give food retailers a look at how the poultry is raised. He will identify retail stores, food buying clubs, and restaurants that currently sell organic and free-range poultry in the market area. He will also identify other retail entities that would consider selling organic and free-range poultry products if a reliable supply were available. Lastly, he will identify organic and free-range poultry producers who want to expand their markets and who might be willing to join a producers’ cooperative.


Lori Marsh

Virginia Tech
T. Robins Buck

Virginia Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs
Anne Fanatico

National Center for Appropriate Technology
Michael Lachance

Virginia Cooperative Extension