Tag Archives: marketing

USDA Accepts Proposals for an Organic Check-Off Program

Got Milk?
The “Got milk?” campaign has over 90% awareness in the United States and the tag line has been licensed to dairy boards across the United States since 1995.

Whether you know it or not, you have probably seen marketing campaigns run by commodity research and promotion or “check-off” programs.

Remember “Got milk?” and “Beef – It’s what’s for dinner”? Each of these marketing campaigns was created through what is commonly called a commodity check-off program. Currently, there are check-off programs in place for all sorts of commodities, from pork to popcorn, which are funded by producers and run by boards made up of industry stakeholders.

In May, USDA began accepting proposals for a check-off program that would cover all organic commodities and require organic producers, importers, processors, and handlers above a certain income threshold to pay in to fund the program.

The first proposal, called GRO Organic, was submitted by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) on May 12th of this year. It would raise an estimated $30 million annually for organic research and promotion. While $30 million per year sounds like a boon for the organic community, the idea has been met with resistance by some stakeholders. For example, some organizations claim that conventional check-offs have disproportionately benefited large processors and manufacturers at the expense of small and mid-sized farms. In fact, some feel that check-offs have directly contributed to the decline of small farms.

Ineffective marketing is another concern. Because they fall under the USDA’s umbrella, check-off programs tend to restrict the language and claims used in promotion, which can result in painfully generic marketing. On the other hand, more funding for organic research is sorely needed and a check-off program could help increase the capacity for domestic organic agriculture.

Will an organic check-off prove to be a boon or a burden on Vermont’s organic farmers? If you have thoughts, please be sure to share them with us by emailing Maddie Monty, NOFA-VT’s policy advisor or calling (802) 434-4122. In the meantime, we will be following the process every step of the way and will be asking for your input to help us inform our actions on this and other key policy issues.

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NOFA-VT hiring Office Manager and Outreach Coordinator

Farmers are the superstars of the local and organic movement, to be sure, but a lot of important work goes on behind the scenes to help them grow and sell successfully. You can join the movement and make a real difference in Vermont’s food system by becoming part of the NOFA Vermont team!

We’re hiring two positions that provide critical support to our on-the-ground programs training farmers, educating consumers, and helping to make local and organic food available to all.  Help us grow local farms, healthy food, and strong communities in Vermont!

Office Manager

The full-time Office Manager is responsible for office administration, membership services, and program staff support.

We are seeking a candidate who is familiar with agriculture, is detail oriented, has excellent organizational and interpersonal skills, is able to juggle many tasks, and has experience with the Microsoft Office Suite. IT experience in a server environment and familiarity with SalesForce a plus.

Marketing and Outreach Coordinator

We’re looking for a candidate with marketing and outreach experience to tell the story of our programs and marketing campaigns, including the promotion of the Vermont Organic Farmers certification brand. This includes coordinating print and electronic campaigns, managing NOFA-VT’s web and social media presence, press relations, event promotion and staffing, and working with our graphic designer to produce a quarterly print newsletter and other material as needed. We are seeking expertise in marketing fundamentals, strong written and oral communications skills, and a creative, energetic individual who can balance many projects. Experience with Adobe Creative Suite and SalesForce a plus. 32-40 hours/week, occasional weekends required.

For both positions, please submit a resume and letter of interest to NOFA-VT, PO Box 697, Richmond VT 05477, or e-mail info@nofavt.org. We will be accepting applications until October 6, 2014. Job training will start in November with employment starting December 1st, 2014.

Wholesale and Institutional Markets – a quick survey for producers

Hey farmers! We’re partnering with the Agency of Ag on a project to help determine the level of interest from producers in institutional and wholesale markets.

We’re hoping you can take about 10 minutes out of this busy season to fill out a short survey, which will help us understand the current supply and demand in this market, the level of interest amongst producers, the room for growth, and what kinds of support and technical assistance would be most useful.

We see wholesale and institutional sales (such as those to grocery stores, schools, and hospitals) as a key market for future local foods growth. These markets reach large numbers of customers, many of whom may not be seeking out local products or participating in direct-market channels such as farmers’ markets and CSAs. By making local foods more accessible to more people, we can increase awareness and create demand.

We hope that you’ll help us analyze and understand this market, your participation in it, and how best we can work with producers and other partners to make wholesale and institutional sales successful for Vermont farmers and processors.

Click here to take the survey now!