Farmers in the state of Pennsylvania must comply with strict regulations that require them to implement responsible nutrient and soil management practices to not only protect local environments, but also the Chesapeake Bay and other sensitive ecosystems beyond the state’s borders.
To help Pennsylvania farmers meet regulatory requirements for conservation and nutrient management planning, the Penn State Cooperative Extension Land Analysis Lab in collaboration with regulators, including the PA State Department of Environmental Protection and the PA State Conservation Commission, are developing a set of online tools called PAOneStop.
WesMar Farms is one of two licensed goat dairies in Louisiana. Marketing their fresh goat milk, cheese and seasonal produce can be an obstacle for this sustainable family farm, Marguerite Constantine said.
“I am not a large company. I don’t have a big advertising budget. I can’t afford an ad agency or a PR person,” she explained. “My resources are limited not only by time, but money.”
When MarketMaker, a free online tool designed to link agricultural supply chain players, came to Louisiana in 2010, Constantine was quick to create an account. She said that it was “tailor-made” for her small farm’s market research and advertising needs.
According to a 2010 nationwide survey conducted by the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), organic farmers are faced with a seed market that neither possesses sufficient available quantities of certified organic seed to meet demand nor the specific varieties of organic seed that they desire. As a result, many organic farmers have had to compensate by using conventionally bred seed varieties selected for use in high-input chemical farming systems in lieu of those specifically adapted to organic farming systems.
Farmers in Iowa who are considering adding new crops to their offerings now have an online tool at their disposal to help them estimate market demand. Using an array of government statistics, the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Market Planner estimates the demand for 80 crops in state and in bordering states. The Market Planner, which became available for use last fall, is the result of a collaboration between the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and the Institute for Transportation at ISU.
Imagine that you’re a small rancher in a state, let’s say California, where sustainable meat products are in high demand. You’ve got a high-quality, grass-fed product that your neighbors and their friends would snap up in an instant if you could get it to them regularly, at a reasonable price. However, there isn’t a local meat processing plant that’s willing or able to handle your business and sending your cattle long distances undermines your customers’ commitment to eating local as well as elevates costs. Should you do your own processing?