Cooperative Marketing of Organic Produce and Animal Products Direct to Consumers
The challenge facing small producers and marketers of high-quality pastured animal products and organic vegetables and fruits is how to survive in the rapidly-growing natural and organic foods market by increasing production income while decreasing costs. However, the organic wholesale market is steadily losing its viability for the small-scale farmer due to competition from large-scale growers.
Although the market for sustainably-produced food is growing, Ozark small farmers dedicated to growing high-quality organic fruits and vegetables or pasture-raised animals are very much at risk. Large producers are entering the marketplace with factory production methods and labeling terms that imply sustainable production that can mislead the consumer. Competition at the wholesale level for limited shelf space combined with poor transport systems make small-scale farming for wholesale prices unprofitable and requires off-farm income to support the family farm as a lifestyle, not a livelihood.
Ozark Organic Growers Association (OOGA) addresses the problem of increasing competition, falling wholesale prices, poor transport systems, and consumer confusion by exploring whether cooperative marketing of vegetables, fruits, eggs, and meats directly to consumers will favorably impact the individual bottom lines of OOGA growers and other regional producers. OOGA and the participating sustainable livestock producers will build on their considerable investment, expertise, and proven track record in the production and marketing of quality field-grazed beef, poultry, and pork and organic fruits and vegetables.