Subcommittee examines opportunities and challenges of direct marketing
Today, Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13), Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research, held a hearing to examine the opportunities and challenges producers face in direct marketing. Members heard from farmers and ranchers who shared their experiences in direct sales ventures, and how engaging in open dialogues with consumers increases transparency and builds relationships between rural and urban communities.
Farmers and ranchers throughout the country are beginning to pursue new ways to market their products directly to consumers. These avenues include farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangements, and direct sales to restaurants and other retail outlets. In 2012, 144,530 farms sold $1.3 billion in fresh edible agricultural products directly to consumers. This growing enterprise allows farmers and ranchers to forgo normal supply chains taking advantage not only of improved profit potential, but likewise building consumer confidence in our food systems.
“Through direct marketing, America’s farmers and ranchers are able to have an open and honest dialogue with consumers about where their food comes from. Several members of the committee, myself included, have learned that building a relationship of trust with consumers is key to achieving transparency. Today, we heard first-hand how these farmers and ranchers are building those relationships. Consumers want factual and easy to understand information about their food; through direct dialogues, farmers are better able to fulfill that desire and build consumer trust and confidence in today’s food systems. Thank you to all of our witnesses, especially Mr. Heck from my home state of Illinois, for sharing their insights into this very important topic,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Davis.
“The consumers I talk to are increasingly interested in a food system where sales occur at the shortest possible distance from field to fork. This trend has opened up new markets for food raised by producers who take pride in not only growing a quality product but also telling a compelling story. These consumer preferences are opening up more opportunities for farmers to directly market, or to sell their products through channels that keep their identity as producers closely connected to their product,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Suzan DelBene.
“Today, the average individual is at least three generations removed from production agriculture, which only stresses the importance of building an urban-rural coalition so people are able to trust and understand how their food is produced. At the committee, we will continue to engage the public so we can have the input and support of all stakeholders from both urban and rural America and continue to enact policies that maintain and enhance food security and transparency,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway.
Written testimony provided by the witnesses from today’s hearing is linked below. Click here for more information, including Subcommittee Chairman Davis' opening statement, and the archived webcast.
Mr. Kole Tonnemaker, Co-Owner, Tonnemaker Farms, Bellevue, WA
Mr. Andrew Heck, Garden Educator, Generation Healthy Kids, Springfield, IL
Ms. Cris Coffin, Policy Director, Land for Good, Keene, NH
Mr. Michael McCloskey, Co-Founder, Fair Oaks Farms, IN
Mr. John McMicken, CEO, Evergreen Cooperative Corporation, Cleveland, OH
Mr. Josh Eilers, Owner, Ranger Cattle, Austin, TX