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Collaborative Marketing for Small Farms

October 18, 2012

Collaborative Marketing for Small Farms
By Jim Ochterski, Ag Economic Development Specialist, CCE Ontario County
Collaborative marketing is a realistic solution for small- to mid-size farms that are seeking access to larger markets, but are unable to individually serve such accounts. In collaborative marketing, several like-minded producers join together formally to market and distribute farm products, but not necessarily under the governance or control of a cooperative.

The range of farm products that can be sold through a collaborative group is as diverse as the farms themselves: meats, vegetables, forest products, fruits, grains, flowers, nursery & greenhouse products, cheeses and other dairy products, and livestock.

Collaborative marketing may influence many areas of your farm. By choosing to market jointly with other farms, you will adjust your planting intentions, harvesting and storage techniques, crop schedule, certifications, buyer relationships and many other farm office decisions. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. In fact, establishing some type of business collaboration may be one of the more complicated decisions you will make for your farm.

The financial bottom line for family farms is profitability. Collaborative marketing could reduce your marketing expenses, but it might not make your farm profitable overall. Fortunately, there are ways for you to collaborate with other farms for trial periods to assess the economic strengths or weaknesses. The opportunities opened up through multi-farm marketing need to be tempered with good agreements and procedures.

Generally, small farms should consider temporary, limited-scale collaborative projects before developing substantial business agreements. Such arrangements can be a simple as consignment sales, or as complex as a corporation dedicated to marketing and distribution.

The PDF below contains information on creating a collaborative marketing strategy: considering the different types of collaborative marketing business structures, seeking attorney assistance to develop a collaborative marketing agreement, managing commmon problems, and a handy worksheet to help you organize the basic aspects of a collaborative marketing agreement.  

Collaborative Marketing for Small Farms: Selling & Working Together (pdf; 447KB)

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Upcoming Events

Asparagus Variety Trial Open House

May 23, 2024
Batavia, NY

Come see 10 varieties of asparagus! The trial includes new releases, purple, frost avoidant, and expanded disease-resistant varieties. Compare the performance of asparagus planted from home-raised seedlings vs crowns. Participate in a weed control discussion and pick the brains of growers and industry reps!

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June 6, 2024
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This workshop is intended for mushroom producers and those considering mushroom production. Hosted by CCE Wyoming County, the workshop includes a tour and discussion of Flat #12 Mushrooms production process, from substrate to sales, including their food safety plan creation, implementation, and the audit process. Alternative production methods will also be discussed.

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