The market for locally grown produce and food products continues to expand and producers are seeking opportunities to meet this demand. This multidisciplinary program approach assists producers who want to expand their operation, market reach, and diversify their sources of income through value-added products and direct marketing. Cottage food operations are an important route to strengthen the value-added local food economy by facilitating the entry of small-scale producers and entrepreneurs. The “Food as a Business for Producers” workshops help producers develop successful value-added enterprises by providing education from various areas of expertise from several Mississippi entities. These workshops include topics on proper business set-up, costing and pricing, online marketing, labor regulations, agricultural state programs, food processing regulations, and food safety. Four workshops have been conducted (n=48 participants) with participants using a Likert scale (1=Very Little; 5=Very Much) for knowledge gained (response rate 77.1%). On average across educational topics, workshop attendants had “Very Little” knowledge before the workshop and “Much” knowledge after the workshop. The change in knowledge is on average 1.7 points (1-5 scale). We found that the workshops have been successful at increasing knowledge gain in each discipline. Fifty percent of the workshop attendants show intent to adopt recommended practices. We will conduct a follow-up survey to assess adoption and implementation. Through this workshop, producer participants have developed an increased awareness of best practices to help them reduce financial risks by improving their business skills, reduce marketing risks by gaining access and diversifying their market channels, and reduce food safety risks by implementing food safety practices.
|Conference||2018 Extension Risk Management Education National Conference|