Farmer Focus: Marketing is essential for farm profit

Farming nowadays has changed drastically from the time when our grandparents were in business. The challenges we face are hugely different.

I have spent a lot of time talking about diversifying our farm. I feel very strong that diversification is the key to sustainability through the inevitable ups and downs of our industry. 

See also: Read more from the Livestock Farmer Focus writers 

Along with diversification, we have ventured into small niche market areas. Doing so requires that we have the ability to market our product from our farm and this is not an easy task.

Marketing farm’s brands

Marketing is something we didn’t even think about eight years ago. Our main worries then were milk price and labour. Now I spend 10-15 hours a week marketing our own farm brands.

In my egg cartons I include a newsletter. This is just a small piece of paper about the size of a business card, but I personally compile the information that is printed on them and cut each one. We sell roughly 3,300 dozens a week. That is many inserts!

Being creative with my information and telling the story of our farm and animals is very important to today’s success, so I also try to keep up with Facebook posts. I am constantly trying to grown my Facebook users so I have a database of interested people I can reach with information.

Bull calf rearing

As bull calf prices fell and milk got long (there was a surplus of milk on the market), over the last four months, we have started raising our own bull calves. We would like to sell them as pasture-raised veal.

To do so I had to create a website with all our information. I have targeted high-end restaurants within one hour of the farm with veal on their menu and I am sending a mail insert with our veal information to generate sales.

Marketing our own products has become a mandatory job for our farm. It isn’t necessarily my favourite thing to do, but has become essential to continue to sell profitable products.

Jessica McIsaac milks 350 pedigree Holsteins in Petaluma, California, with her husband Neil. They sell organic milk and also have 6,000 laying hens.