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- Where can I sell my products?
- This is a critical question to consider early in your planning, after you’ve assessed what your skills are and established some basic lifestyle goals (visit the Getting Started tutorial if you haven’t already). Though we’ve placed it after the Choosing What to Produce tutorial, it’s actually a good idea to consider marketing before you even decide what to grow (none of this farm planning is a linear process though – you’ll need to keep going around and revisiting all these issues as you research your ideas). What market niches aren’t yet filled locally? What channels are available for selling your products (farmers market, CSA, restaurants, specialty stores, farm stand, pick-your-own, buying club, grocery stores), and what are those buyers looking for?Do not fall into the “if I grow it they will come” trap. Even with the popularity of local foods–or perhaps because of it–it’s as important as ever for you to articulate why your product is special, who your market is, and how you will get it to them. Market planning should not be overlooked. Follow the Selling What You Produce Tutorial to begin exploring how and where you will market your products.
Most beginning farmers think about direct marketing as the place to start but this takes a lot of time and labor, so consider what amount of time you have to invest in marketing and project potential returns by market channel.
- How do I decide which markets are best for me?
- Cornell Cooperative Extension recently produced a Guide to Marketing Channel Selection (PDF) that helps growers evaluate potential marketing options based on sales volume and price, risk and lifestyle preferences, labor requirements, channel-specific costs (like farmers market booth fees), and marketing channel combination. You may have to do a lot of legwork up front to have enough information to evaluate each of your market options, but it will save you a lot of heartache and time in the long run if you get it right from the beginning.
- What marketing regulations do I need to comply with?
- Most products have some kind of regulation attached to their sale, whether it’s wine or firewood or eggs, and it often varies depending on the market channel you choose. If you live in NY, the Guide to Farming in NY Fact Sheets #27 Marketing Regulations and #28 Becoming a Small-Scale Food Processor provide a summary of regulations that apply when marketing various products. Your county Cooperative Extension office or the Dept. of Agriculture is the next place to go for more details on these regulations.
If you’re raising and selling meat in NY, your best resource will be the Resource Guide to Direct Marketing Livestock and Poultry.
Your farm will not last long without thorough attention to where and how you will market your products. Don’t miss any of the subsections in this slightly longer video: Market Venues, Getting the Word Out, Customer Relations, and Setting Yourself Apart.
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