Marketing is rarely a farmer forte

By Keenan Bishop Published:

Our farmers excel at what they do — producing food, fiber and other commodities. Marketing on the other hand can be harder for them.

Some are naturals at dealing with the public but many enjoy farming because it gets them outside and working alone or with a few others and away from the masses. Historically, most of our farm products are sold without having to “market” or advertise them. Tobacco and livestock went to auction and that was that.

Then there are those that sell at the Farmers Market or to local restaurants and other venues. They have to be able to both produce and market their products. I’m sure there are some out there that would love to sell to restaurants, groceries or at the market but just fear they lack the know-how to do it properly.

The MarketReady program can help.

Many farmers are hesitant, or unprepared, to meet the requirements that buyers from local restaurants, schools, and grocery/wholesale/retail businesses have for their suppliers.

Among concerns for buyers: manage their own food safety, have insurance, monitor product quality, traceability risks, and much more. MarketReady addresses these issues and seeks to educate food suppliers about how to succeed in today’s markets, in order to keep farming.

The training is based around best business practices identified by buyers in these markets that are actively seeking to engage local suppliers. MarketReady will help farm vendors selling dairy, fruits, meats, vegetables, value added products, and more create a successful business strategy.

This week at the KSU Third Thursday Thing is your chance to learn about MarketReady. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 10.

Dr. Tim Woods, University of Kentucky Agriculture Economics, will discuss “Communication, Packaging, Labeling, Pricing and Supply.” At lunch there will be a question and answer session with a panel of guest speakers including a food coordinator, former food service director and wholesale local food purchaser.

After lunch Woods will cover “Distribution, Storage, Invoice, Insurance, Quality Assurance & Temperature Control, Satisfaction Guarantee, Working Cooperatively and Marketing.” The program will conclude around 3:30. That’s a lot of information to cover but it will at least touch on everything you need to know to get started in the right direction.

In order to ensure there are enough notebooks and materials as well as lunches, register by sending an e-mail to kevin.heidemann@uky.edu or call at 859-218-4383. To find out more about MarketReady visit www.uky.edu/fsic/marketready.

The training will be at the Kentucky State University Research and Demonstration Farm, Center for the Sustainability of Farms and Families off Mills Lane. To reach the farm, take U.S. 127 South toward Lawrenceburg to the fourth stoplight, turn left onto Mills Lane. The farm is 1 ½ miles on the right.

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