In today’s agricultural environment it is becoming more and more difficult to find a farm that is not specialized. Therefore, if you are an Ag-marketer it is important to understand how to approach specialized farmers.
American agriculture and rural life has seen a significant transformation in the past 100. In the early 1900s agriculture was labor intensive and there were a large number of small, diversified farms in rural areas. These farms employed close to half of the U.S. workforce and produced an average of five different commodities. Times have changed, however, and today, there is a small number of large, specialized farms in rural areas where less than a fourth of the U.S. population lives.
Many modern farmers are drawn to the idea of specialized farming for a variety of reasons. Specialized farms are more efficient because unlike a diversified operation there is a focus on a single product so no time is lost while workers switch from one process to another. There is less overhead since fewer products mean fewer supplies and less equipment. There also is less waste. Farmers also are able to obtain an in-depth knowledge of a particular product which allows them to become a specialist in that product. Finally, the operation’s financial records can be more easily maintained.
Of course, there are drawbacks to specialized farming as well. When a farmer only has one product to sell they have nothing to fall back on if market conditions are unfavorable. If a farm specializes in a particular crop there also is a danger of nutrients in the soil being depleted. These nutrients will then need to be reintroduced through chemicals or crops that aren’t part of the farm’s normal operation. Another significant risk of specialized farming is that a single infection or parasite could wipe out the entire operation. Many times specialized farming operations are subject to an irregular income stream, as well, since the farm’s particular crop or product may only be in demand during certain times of the year.
If you are an Ag-marketer, specialized farming requires a unique approach. Unlike diversified farms which consist of a large number of crop or non-crop enterprises, specialized farms makes it easier for you to define your customer’s particular problems and offers solutions to those problems.
When developing a marketing strategy for specialized farms, segmentation is essential. It is essential that identify a prospect’s demographics, geographical location, revenue and product. Since specialized farms are so narrowly focused it is also crucial that you understand what makes them different and capitalize on those differences.