Today’s consumers often prefer locally produced foods because they attach greater significance to how, and where, the items on their table were produced. In response, women farmers’ interest in starting food ventures has grown. However, the production and marketing risks addressed by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act make it difficult for producers to determine whether adding value or direct marketing are appropriate additions to their farms.
Penn State Extension‘s Food for Profit (FFP) is a one-day interactive workshop that covers business planning, niche marketing, and profit-oriented financing; NE CRME funding supported adding risk management practices, specific to food businesses, to the class agenda. Since 2010, over 675 farmers, 67% (456) of them women, have attended FFP. End-of-session and six-month post evaluations have provided strong indications that, because of attending this workshop, new food businesses have been started. In starting these businesses, producers have researched and adopted one or more of the strategies advocated to lessen business risk (i.e., Good Agricultural Practices Certification, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points Planning, consumer notification of food allergens, proactive recall planning and procuring appropriate insurance).
Session participants will receive a brief overview of Food for Profit; they will learn how FFP has been replicated beyond Pennsylvania (in Maryland, West Virginia and Tennessee). Data from a six-month post-workshop evaluation will be presented, documenting start-up decisions made, risk management strategies adopted, and revenues realized. Those attending the session will become aware of the FFP program, and assess feasibility of replicating this program in their communities.
|2014 Women in Agriculture Educators National Conference