Farmer Marketing Information Coops

1996 Annual Report for LNC96-110

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1996: $22,390.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $21,480.00
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Jerry Jost
Kansas Rural Center

Farmer Marketing Information Coops

Summary

Objectives of this project include:

1) Farmer information co-ops will be organized for the development of farm-to-town markets.

2) Marketing effectiveness will be improved through mentor/apprentice relationships.

3) Direct marketing management bulletins will be developed to transfer the learning from these information co-ops to the broader public.

This project organizes farmer information co-ops for the development of farm-to-town markets. In order to better balance more ecological farming practices with farm profitability, farmers need alternative markets that help them take back the economic middle in agriculture. Four information co-ops are organized around the following farm products and technical questions:

Pastured chickens – processing regulations, on-farm processing, portable pens, production, sources of inputs, management, pricing, developing an organized association of producers, customer relations, quality control, storage, distribution, marketing strategies, etc.
Freezer lamb – pricing, regulations, labeling, developing a customer base, forage-finishing, production, meat cuts, recipes, quality control, customer relations, storage, distribution, marketing strategies, etc.
Organic grain – marketing strategies, quality control, pricing, storage, pooled transportation, co-op member development, certification, coordination of planting intentions, data base development, etc.
Grass-fed beef – production management and coordination, regulations, labeling, quality control, pricing, processing, meat cuts, co-op member development, customer relations, promotion, marketing strategies, etc.

Farmer organizers of the information co-ops have signed working agreements with the Kansas Rural Center. They have been coached and instructed on their goals and objectives. Initial payments to these farmers have been made to start the project. Unfortunately, the start up of this project has been slower than anticipated with a turnover of two farmer cooperators. The information co-op on grass-fed beef has finished the teleconference calls, a draft of the marketing guide is included with this report, and the visitation of co-op members has been scheduled. The project coordinator will follow up with the remaining farmer organizers to insure project implementation.

The project coordinator will identify potential participants in these marketing information co-ops. Selection of participants will be based upon interest, commitment to direct or cooperative marketing, past marketing experience, association with existing sustainable farmer organizations or public institutions, diversity of marketing approaches and willingness to share personal knowledge.

Participants will be chosen to create a constructive balance with beginning and seasoned marketing experience. A goal will be to have at least three different states and farmer organizations represented in each co-op. At least one participating farmer will be identified as a mentoring farmer with advanced marketing experience. Opportunities will be given to include non-farmers with specific expertise that would benefit the participants.

A brief written biographical introduction of each participant in a co-op will be available to each member at the beginning of this project. A provocative article on a relevant subject and a written summary of the previous teleconference discussion will be sent to each participant in preparation for the next learning session.

Each co-op will participate in four learning sessions scheduled at their discretion. Each call will average 1½ hours in length. Each teleconference call will be taped for later reference and written materials.

A farmer in each co-op with the appropriate skills will be contracted to coordinate the information co-op. Their responsibilities include: coordinating and facilitating calls, writing up a summary of each call, mailing a provocative article to stimulate discussion before each call, conducting mailings and reminder calls as necessary and writing up a final technical marketing bulletin based on their shared learning.

Each co-op will have $1,000 available to them to use as travel money for on-site learning. Any participant in these co-ops can apply for this travel money to visit a mentor farm, host a visit from a mentor farmer, or make an information gathering site visit. These face-to-face interactions will facilitate extended learning and opportunities for building personal learning relationships that will extend beyond the life of this project. Decisions on how this travel money is allocated will be made between the project and information co-op coordinator with input from participants as appropriate.

For more information:
Jerry Jost
P.O. Box 133
Whiting, KS 66552
785-873-3431
785-873-3432 (fax)
jjost@flinthills.com