Young Family Farmers

I was going to talk about some ways people 25-45 (call them Young Family Farmers for now) might start a small farm. Unlike the older folks we've been talking about these have quite a bit less capital but lots more energy and time.
But they are also going to need the little place to make some money to get the note paid. The advice always given to little folks is to either put in a high maintenance crop or sell a value-added product and organic fits in here.

Aside from the lag time to get certified I thought I'd look at how the "organic" brand is doing lately.

The trend looks down in the UK and check out the rancor in the comments! But the big brand in the US, Organic Valley acts like things are peachy. Perhaps because they are using the model of the big boys and putting the farmer on contract - not much new there.

" researcher The Hartman Group found that the use of organics began leveling off in 2006, a trend it expects to continue this year, and an Information Resources survey of 1,000 consumers in May found that 52 percent were buying less organics because of cost concerns."
--Reuters, 1/09

This is a bad sign as far as the small farmer goes. One of the few ways to make a go of a small plot is produce a premium crop for a niche market. The "brand" Organic once had the cache of a better quality, premium, boutique product for those in the know and able to afford the price premium. I'm gonna say it was another of us Boomer's vanities.

The up side was it gave lots of little guys a market to sell into which allowed them to make a go of building a small farm, the downside was like any other product you make more in volume so lots of big growers got on board and well, you know.

Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food and other writing claims that big organic uses the identical industrialized system as mainstream producers - not really much of a difference and I think consumers are gettin the idea.

As someone who spent a good portion of my working life in marketing, I can tell you 2 things; every advertiser says:
  1. Make the logo bigger
  2. Make "quality" bold
The second thing is the word "quality" is something the consumer can no longer hear.

Organic as a practice is a good thing in my book, but it might not have quite the payback of some other "benefits" with lower or no cost
But there is a new "brand" and it's Local! It's the 100 mile diet...

It's the Locavore! Check out these links. And these articles...

Today's Farm News
by Pops

Rural agenda (comentary)
Organic and Value Added

Farm o'the Day:
Local Farm
of course :^)