Added Value: Direct Marketing for Farmers and Ranchers

The Imperial Stock Ranch, which began in 1871, faces a new and serious challenge to its very survival: how to create new markets for its products to compensate for longstanding existing markets that have declined or shifted overseas. Some bold steps were needed to rethink what to do with the wool from the sheep they raise on their 30,000 acre ranch in Eastern Oregon. Their solution? Direct, value-added marketing to yarn retailers and apparel designers.

Jeanne Carver is following in a long tradition of farmers striving to distinguish their product in the marketplace—first and foremost by its quality, but also through processing, product enhancements, packaging, and suggestions for how consumers can use the product. As you watch the video, note the four key areas where producers focus their efforts in order to achieve success:

  1. Identify your product and its market potential: What do we have and what does it need to become to be able to sell it for a profit?
  2. Determine what processing is required: How will we convert our raw product into the saleable items that consumers are looking for?
  3. Create a marketing package: What is it about your product that is of special value to buyers of your product, and what is the best way to get that message across?
  4. Develop a plan for how to market and sell your product: What steps will be needed to get my product to the marketplace and who can help me make that happen?

This video was funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and produced by Cooking Up A Story. SARE provides grants to farmers, ranchers, researchers and educators in order to advance food and farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities. SARE is proud of its connections to farming communities across the country and encourages those who wish to learn more to visit their website SARE is a program of the USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service.

Photo Courtesy of Imperial Stock Ranch. All Rights Reserved.

Originally published on Cooking Up a Story

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  1. Saturday, January 9th, 2010
    The direct to market farmer should be seeking success on the internet with sites, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.
    These Social Marketing tools can supply much of the delivery muscle for a farmers marketing message.
  2. Saturday, January 9th, 2010
    Tim, totally agree with you. But having a sense of the time involved in growing and raising food - in addition to daily life and possibly raising a family too - I wonder if there might not be a work around with other folks who might be able to share some internet/social media savvy. Perhaps a trade of some freshly raised food for some help setting up a Facebook or twitter page, or the like. This might be a win-win for the right people.

    Writer/Blogger Bonnie Powell (the Ethicurean) has done something like this with 2 CSAs. She says she traded her new media services for years for pastured meat, eggs, and milk. She'll be leading a 'social media for farmers' session at the upcoming Eco-Farm's preconference in Northern California.
  3. Sunday, January 10th, 2010
    That is a great idea! With work and luck, the internet and social media will provide a 'work around' for farmers to develop marketing connections with the consumers that can provide retail income for the grower.