As small farmers look for opportunities to enhance their profitability, they face some challenges not encountered by larger resourced producers. There is a need for service providers for the agricultural community (cooperative extension, lending institutions, USDA offices) to be more aware of the needs of small farm operators. There are distinct characteristics of these farmers that make it difficult for them to obtain useful information, and service providers need to become more aware of and sensitized to these characteristics and the inherent program delivery needs. This segment of the agricultural community is an important component of the industry, however, and their success is critical as the impact on their surrounding communities can be either positive or negative, depending upon the agricultural product they produce and the marketing strategies they employ. In addition to the need for an enhanced awareness of small farm operators unique challenges, there is a tremendous need for increased programmatic support directed toward this important segment of the agricultural economy. This initiative promotes the development of alternative enterprises while remaining sensitive to local cultural and sociological considerations. It facilitates the development of appropriate economic structures that considers both marketplace demands and local community impacts, and helps the community identify and address critical issues affecting the local viability of agriculture. The increasing strength of the local foods movement has created opportunities for these smaller agricultural producers, because they often are the appropriate size to fill important market niches. Yet it is not easy for them to identify these opportunities, much less implement them, since such producers often have little formal connection with urban consumers. Indeed, in our conversations with small farmers, we often hear them state that they want to focus on value-added and direct sales, but yet they do not know how to find such markets. Simultaneously, at a recent meeting with local foods groups in Philadelphia, including those representing farmers markets, restaurants, and other specialty markets, the groups told us that their customers have strong demand for locally grown foods, but yet the groups are having a difficult time identifying enough local farms to fill the demand. There clearly is a need for connecting farmers and these urban markets, to the betterment of both.
|Effective start/end date||10/1/13 → 9/30/15|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $236,314.00