Where Do I Fit In?

Published on: 18:16PM Jan 22, 2013

Cows and Barn   Clip Art PhotoFrom Legacy Moment (01/18/2013).
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Coming from the backdrop of big conventional agriculture, a person might wonder, Is there a real and sustaining demand for organic/natural/locally produced food? Parallel to that thought is, If the demand is real, should a producer explore the opportunities that market might provide?  

Like clothing fashions and car styles, trends come and go based on pricing, availability, substitutes, health benefits and any number of other factors. Some might dismiss organic/natural/local as a fad that will fade as soon as prices outpace demand and substitute products become more prevalent.
From a producer's perspective, however, especially for a young, beginning farmer, this trend might provide an opportunity unlike anything we've seen in recent history. Consumers care about where their food comes from, they want a relationship with the grower, and they are interested in the health benefits of the latest in slow food. Today's informed consumers want to feel they're making a wise buying decision and providing the best nutrition to the family their dollar will buy.
The savvy agripreneur looks for ways to capitalize on that demand—not as a marketing ploy, but rather as a method to build a profitable business based on a value proposition that is not predicated on thinning margins and economies of scale.
Recently, Dairy Today posted an article on Organic Valley, the nation's largest cooperative of organic farmers. In the report, we learn that Organic Valley posted 20% growth in 2012, an amazing number given its 25-year history and this year's devastating drought. From sales of $715 million in 2011 to $860 million in 2012, this farmer-owned co-op has tapped a vein of demand, yet is capturing only a tiny share of the $30 billion organic market.
Are you that agripreneur who looks out over the industry landscape at rising land prices and thinning margins and wonders, Where do I fit in? How about right here? If dairy isn't your thing, there are any number of other products and services that touch the organic/natural/local market with a crop that serves the lifestyle choice of many consumers. $30 billion with a 10% annual growth rate? You do the math.
If your burning desire is to become a professional farmer, what's your value proposition?

News & Resources for You:

Designing a business should be one of the most exciting activities in the life of an agripreneur.
Read more about Organic Valley's growth.
Event update! Registration is now open for upcoming Legacy Project Workshops in March. We're coming to Ames, IA on March 6; Dubuque, IA on March 8; Mankato, MN on March 13; and Sioux Falls, SD on March 15.
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