If you are marketing to farmers and have a strong agricultural background, it makes sense that you will be able to connect with farmers on a personal and professional level. However, if you did not grow up on a farm, don’t despair. Marketing to farmers isn’t as difficult as you might think—even for a lifelong city dweller!

If you really want to understand where farmers are coming from, spend some time with them on the farm. In fact, nothing will earn a farmer’s respect more than someone who is genuinely interested in learning about his or her way of life and business.

If you own an ag-based business you also would do well to become involved in the many organizations and networks that farmers rely on. These include things like county and university extension offices and commodity checkoff programs. Depending on the nature of your business, it is also important to learn about organizations that are specific to the particular types of farmers you are marketing to, as well. If you are marketing to fruit or vegetable producers, for example, you will want to learn all you can about labor and food safety issues. Marketing to corn farmers? Get well acquainted with the National Corn Growers Association.

Further, if you want to establish yourself as someone who is really interested in getting to know the farming industry, there are certain pitfalls to avoid. Farmers have little time or patience for people who think they know more than they do about the agriculture business. To build your credibility, avoid using farm tours as an opportunity to sell. If you schedule a visit to a farm to learn about that operation, the worst thing you can do is to push your product or service during that visit.

It also is imperative that you ask questions if you don’t understand something. Farmers are more than happy to explain things and will see your curiosity and eagerness to learn about their operation as a strength rather than a weakness. No one knows better than farmers that it is impossible to understand the agricultural industry if you have little or no experience on the farm.

If you think that you don’t have the time required to really get involved in the lives of the farmers you are selling to, remember this: If you don’t take the time now, you can count on making very few sales in the future. On the other hand, when you get to know your farmers and their way of life at the beginning of your relationship, you will in most cases have loyal customers for years to come.


Getting noticed by farmers online is becoming more and more difficult for Ag-based businesses. Much of this has to do with the fact that, like other Americans, farmers get their information from a variety of media platforms. Unfortunately, maintaining a substantial presence on every online channel can be challenging.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, tablets, smart phones, internet searches, websites—if farmers want to know something, it is becoming more difficult to predict where exactly they will go to look for it. Further, on any given day, farmers can be on a variety of platforms.

If you want to market to farmers you must have a solid strategy in place so that your message reaches the farmers you are trying to connect with. Here are some important tips for building that type of strategy:

1. Remember that once is NEVER enough. Selling a new farm implement? Share it on Facebook. Send out a tweet. Blog about how much time or money it will save farmers.

2. Don’t cross your channels. Don’t write lengthy blogs about your product on your Facebook page. Don’t try to stuff too much information into a single tweet. You get the idea.

3. Always be evaluating. Is a particular message bringing in more leads? Does a certain platform seem to be especially popular with your target audience? It is important to monitor how your messages are being received and where they are getting read. If your Twitter posts seem to get no attention but Facebook posts are liked and shared in big numbers, continue with your Facebook efforts and find ways to tweak your Twitter efforts.

4. Consider something new. If you are having trouble keeping track of all of your online efforts, the thought of adding more to your plate may seem overwhelming. However, it is necessary to take a risk once in a while. Consider a marketing tactic you have never tried—hosting a web chat, for example. It may flop but it might be a huge success. You simply never know until you try.
Marketing to farmers can take a lot of time but you should be encouraged by the fact that if you have something important to say, farmers are always willing to listen. The key is to make sure that your message shows up where those farmers frequent.


If you own a small agriculture-based business, chances are you are always looking for ways to grow that business. While expanding your business can be a risk—especially if you are doing reasonably well now—it is a risk worth taking. This is especially true when you know that there are more people out there who would benefit from your product or service.

The key to growing your business is to make sure you have a plan. While every business is different and requires a unique vision for the future, there are some basic tenets that need to be adhered to whether you are selling farm machinery or children’s clothing.

1. Remember that timing is everything. Make sure the market conditions are right for growing your business. If you have to wait a few months or even longer to expand your offerings because of a soft market, use that time to prepare for your expansion.

2. Surround yourself with the right people. If you really want to grow your small business, you are going to have to hire dedicated, talented individuals to help you. It is essential that you take your time when hiring because one wrong hire can set you back considerably.

3. Embrace change. The most successful businesses are able to adapt and respond to market conditions. If you find it difficult to recover after a setback, you are going to have a tough time growing your business because there will always be bumps in the road. The most successful business owners use these bumps as lessons and move on.

4. Focus on customer service. No business will survive if doesn’t provide outstanding customer service. Never grow your business so fast that you are forced to sacrifice customer service. And in your quest to acquire new customers, never forget your current customers. Customer loyalty can literally make or break a business.

5. Take advantage of technology. The larger your business becomes, the more likely you will need to implement more advanced technology. Make sure you carefully research your options so that this technology allows you to better manage your business.

The decision to grow your small Ag business can be daunting. The key is to know where you want to go and how to get there. Remember, if you offer a quality product or service that is in demand and you treat your customers well, the sky is the limit.


Most people don’t go into farming to get rich. That doesn’t mean farmers wouldn’t like to be able to make a healthy living and not worry about shrinking profit margins year after year. In fact, in order to stay afloat financially, many farmers take second jobs to make ends meet.

While most farmers who work a second job must go off their farm to find that extra income, there are other options. It just takes a little creativity. Today, many farmers are taking advantage of their land and agricultural experience to create an agricultural business that complements their current farming operation.

What follows are some non-traditional businesses that are cropping up on farms across the country:

Pick Your Own Produce: Today’s consumers want to know where their food comes from and that it is as fresh as possible. This has led many farmers to open their farms to people who want to pick their own fruits and vegetables. One added benefit of such an operation is that the labor required at harvest time is drastically reduced. Your customers literally do the work for you.

Agricultural Tourism: Open your farmhouse doors to guests who want to experience what it is like on a real working farm. These types of beds and breakfasts are popping up all over the country and their popularity continues to grow. You can offer as few or as many activities as you like, including things like horseback riding, milking cows, planting and harvesting crops, and so much more. You can cater the experience to singles, couples or families.

Rental Property: Consider renting out your farm for things like weddings (farm-themed weddings are all the rage these days), company picnics, family reunions, bonfires and hay-rack rides. People and organizations are always looking for new and inviting places to gather and a farm is a great place to do just that.

Educational Workshops: Schools, daycares and other educational organizations are always on the lookout for field trips or other opportunities to teach their students or members about different ways of life. As a farmer, you can offer tours and classes on things like growing vegetables, raising backyard chickens or horseback riding. The ideas are as endless as your imagination.

Owning a farm means you are living a life many others want to experience. Capitalize on this and you may find yourself with a lucrative side business that can pay off big.

Cover crops and soil health are huge issues today. No matter where you turn, experts (and everyone else) are telling farmers how important it is that they plant cover crops.

Cover crops are used to reduce soil erosion. On flat open land, cover crops will protect against wind that can blow away nutrient-rich topsoil. In hilly, wet areas, cover crops will prevent water from washing away topsoil. In the spring, cover crops are tilled under or sprayed down before row crops are planted.

In addition to preventing soil erosion, cover crops benefit farmers and the environment in many other ways, including:

  • Increased soil fertility
  • Nutrient replenishment
  • Increased organic matter
  • Reduced water drainage
  • Weed control

In light of these advantages, some people may wonder why a farmer would ever choose not to plant cover crops. The fact is, however, that some do believe that they have legitimate reasons for deciding against cover crops.

Whether you agree or not, these farmers believe that planting cover crops doesn’t make financial sense. Farmers who are having a difficult time making ends meet simply can’t justify the costs involved in planting cover crops, especially when profit margins are already razor thin. Time is another factor. Depending on the size of the operation, some smaller farmers just don’t feel as if they can get it all done.

A survey by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation showed that in addition to the reasons listed above, there are other challenges farmers say they encounter when planting cover crops. Here are some of the major ones:

  • Cover crops become weeds the following year
  • Cover crops use too much soil moisture
  • There is a potential for yield reduction with cover crops
  • Cover crops increase insect potential
  • There may be a carbon to nitrogen ratio imbalance
  • Cover crops increase disease potential

No one would argue that cover crops are not beneficial to the soil or to the environment but neither is every farmer who doesn’t plant cover crops irresponsible. Farmers are concerned about the land and the environment. After all, those things are the source of their livelihood. If some farmers decide to forgo cover corps it is likely because they have decided that cover crops do not work for their particular farm or in their particular region. It does not, as some may say, have anything to do with whether or not they are good stewards of the land.