CORVALLIS - In recent years, some small and medium-sized farmers in the western United States have been bucking difficult times. Rather than produce high-yield, low-cost commodities to sell to wholesalers, many innovative growers have become direct marketers, growing, producing and selling premium products directly to the consumer.
These growers have become entrepreneurs.
"Direct farm marketing allows the producer to capture a larger share of the consumer's dollar," said Oregon State University agricultural economist Larry Lev.
Lev is a co-author of "Western Profiles of Innovative Agricultural Marketing," a 122-page publication that features creative agricultural operations throughout the West. The publication identifies key factors behind the successes or failures of 17 direct farm marketing and agri-tourism enterprises throughout the western United States, including Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, California, Colorado and Nevada. The short case studies are easy to browse for new ideas.
"Personalities, relationships, superb quality and service, willingness to change and general business savvy are key to success of these types of operations," said Lev, a professor in OSU's Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. "We've tried to identify subtle and unique factors behind these operations in this guide."
Agricultural operations profiled in the book include organic farms, a "natural" beef cooperative, growing salad greens and herbs for high-end restaurants, farming as entertainment (e.g. corn mazes, pumpkin festivals etc.), pastured poultry, pet food production, part-time farming, flower production, community supported agriculture, farm direct markets and those that produce premium products for foreign markets. The guide is well illustrated with color photos and contact information is provided for each of the agricultural innovators.
In the final chapter, Lev and his colleagues list guiding principles they gleaned from the experience of these innovators. They give strategies that agricultural producers can use to market agricultural products, determine price, decide the appropriate time and place to sell, promote the product, make people decisions and other guiding principles.
Printed copies are available by sending a request for the publication and a check or money order for $10 payable to: Agricultural Research Foundation. Send to: Larry Lev, Agricultural and Resource Economics, 221C Ballard Hall, OSU, Corvallis, OR 97331. Or download all or sections of it off the web for no charge at: http://ag.arizona.edu/arec/wemc/westernprofiles.html.