- Farm Business Management: agritourism, business planning, farmers' markets/farm stands, marketing management, risk management
New Jersey is the most urbanized and densely populated state with 8.9 million people living in an area of 7,354 square miles, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The agricultural industry has realized retail marketing of farm products directly to this concentrated population can garner the highest returns for farm products and help farms remain sustainable in the state. In 2006, the Census of Agriculture reported on-farm direct marketing to be a 57.52 million dollar industry in NJ.
On-farm direct marketing has evolved to be the main marketing strategy for small to medium farms. These farms are not large enough or have economy of scale to compete in wholesale markets. As more established farmers transition and beginning farmers enter into direct sales to the public, educational and outreach assistance on topics related to risk management, food safety, financial planning, hospitality training, liability strategies and regulatory compliance are demanded from cooperative extension and other agricultural service providers. An integral part of agricultural sustainability is related to risk management, especially in such an urbanized state.
A Rutgers leadership team of 5 faculty (4 agricultural agents and 1 extension specialist) will train other extension personnel, NJ Department of Agriculture staff, New Jersey Farm Bureau staff, NOFANJ staff and insurance agents (to be referred to ag service providers) on ways to assist farmers with on-farm direct marketing about the related topics previously listed. Trainees will be supported by the leadership team as they learn and conduct education with farmers and follow up surveying of participants post-training activities will to be collected and documented.
The need for and interest in this project has evolved from a previous NESARE PDP award to Rutgers, project ENE11-121: “Development of Extension Programming to Support the Advancement of Agritourism in the Northeast”. This project has developed an extensive collection of tools and resources for farm educators, and the educators learning about the tools are requesting more in-depth training about how to use them effectively with farmers. The NJ state program will utilize the tools developed through project ENE11-121 with an “in-the field” and “hands-on” training approach that will take agritourism and on-farm direct marketing training of service providers a step further.
Rutgers has developed an electronic system of blogs, alerts and e-newsletters on topics of sustainable agriculture and crop production, such as The Plant and Pest Advisory, http://plant-pest-advisory.rutgers.edu/ (blogs, e-alerts and e-newsletters), and the Sustaining Farming on the Urban Fringe http://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs/urbanfringe/ (e-newsletters). These resources have become primary conduits for statewide agricultural information to New Jersey’s farming industry. The Rutgers state program will manage the outreach of this sustainable agricultural information and provide technical computer support to authors of sustainable agriculture web content as an additional educational activity beyond the proposed professional development training in agritourism and on-farm direct marketing.
Performance targets from proposal:
10 Ag service providers will conduct additional SWOT analyses and provide other education and services about agritourism and on-farm direct marketing to 15 farmers; 10 Ag service providers will outreach to other professionals about their experiences and knowledge gained through these trainings.