Farmer Focus: Pressures of launching organic egg brand

As 2015 drew to a close, I found myself constantly wondering if I was selling my product – nest-run organic eggs – to the best brand I could.

Soon my husband and I realised we were not.

We had been selling to a large national company, which had taken our local product so far away from our town and our everyday lives.

I was nervous. My family farm depends on the success of the brand we sell to and I had a gut feeling family farmers were not the priority of the brand. And other farmers told me they had the same concerns.

I worked as hard as I could to gather the pieces I needed to begin selling my own product with my family’s label on it.

After all, I had never planned to have my own egg label. Many of the other farmers who sold in my group were happy at the thought of a change, to get back to the simplicity of what we do – producing a premium product with excellent animal welfare and to provide that product to stores in our local community. And it seems I was the one up for the challenge.

See also: Read more from all the livestock Farmer Focus writers

In about two months I will begin packaging my farm’s organic eggs, as well as the eggs from four other family farms, into my own brand.

I will use a co-packer to process the eggs and be supported by a small management team comprising a bookkeeper and a sales and distribution manager. The eggs will be distributed throughout California by a local food distribution company.

There is a tremendous amount of stress at this point – the pressure to do right by my fellow farmers, who are depending on me, and the need to be successful for my family.

I know it is the right move for the longevity of my family farm. I have a long road ahead, but look forward to the journey and am pleased to be able to help others.

Luckily things are running smoothly with the cows. They especially love the winters, when they get piles of alfalfa. When the cows are milking well, and the milk price is expected to be strong for the next six months, everyone is smiling.

I will keep you posted.

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