A look at direct market farms in Wisconsin
Steve Deller, Professor
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone (608) 263-6251
3:04 – Total time
0:20 – Direct market business in Wisconsin
1:01 – Farmers markets not enough
1:34 – Trends of successful direct marketing
2:01 – Full-time and supplemental farms
2:21 – Business versus hobby
2:55 – Lead out
Sevie Kenyon: Steve, can you start out by telling us a little bit about the status of direct marketing here in the state?
Steve Deller: In 2007, which was the last census of agriculture, there were just over 6,000 farms that reported direct sales. In 2012, the most recent data that just came out, that number’s dropped down to just below 6,000. So the actual number of farms that are reporting direct sales has actually decreased. But the dollar value has actually gone up by eight percent, andt he dollar of sales per farm, has actually gone up by fifteen percent. And that’s one of the questions that we have right now, you know for farms that are primarily in local foods.
Sevie Kenyon: Can people make a living direct marketing?
Steve Deller: They can, there are some farmers that can be very successful doing this, it’s a tremendous amount of work, Simply going to farmers markets and selling at farmers markets is a very difficult way to go. They really need to get into grocery stores. They need to try to tap in to the local restaurant market. The case studies that we have, the farmers that are more successful in the local food markets have to move beyond simply roadside stands, and move beyond farmers markets.
Sevie Kenyon: And Steve do we have a sense of the kinds of trends that are taking place?
Steve Deller: Some of the farms that are being more successful tend to be clustered in the same part of the state. These farmers are able to network together a little bit more, forming marketing cooperatives for example, and actually go into that larger market. The farmers that have remained have gotten a little bit bigger. They’re thinking like a business now.
Sevie Kenyon: Steve, can you give us a sense of how many of these farms are full-time into it, and how many are doing it as a sideline?
Steve Deller: There’s a number of farms that the local market is their primary market. But there’s a large number of farms that this is almost supplemental income. Those are the farms that I think probably may be deciding; it’s not worth it. That’s why farm numbers are dropping.
Sevie Kenyon: Supplemental income can be very important at times.
Steve Deller: You know one of the things that I think is troublesome here is that I’ve been talking with some ag lenders, and they have been getting a number of farm proposals across their desks. And one of the things that they really struggle with, is that when they look at these business plans, farmers never put their labor into it. So how much money the farmer can actually make is a big question. You know, that’s why its kind of breaking into these two camps. Ones that are kind of doing it as supplemental income, but then there’s this other group that this is there primary business.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Steve Deller, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I am Sevie Kenyon.