Collaborative Marketing for Small Farms

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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.


Introduction from this Document

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, owers, nursery & greenhouse products, cheeses and other dairy products, and livestock.

Collaborative marketing may in uence 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, certi cations, buyer relationships and many other farm o ce 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 nancial bottom line for family farms is pro tability. Collaborative marketing could reduce your marketing expenses, but it might not make your farm pro table 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.