March 14, 2008

Kentucky farmers thinking about selling to retailers who focus on the local, organic or natural niche are invited to attend a free forum presented by University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and Partners for Family Farms. The meeting will take place at 7 p. m. April 10 in the E.S. Good Barn on the UK campus.

According to Lee Meyer, UK agricultural economist, producers who want to “ramp up” from selling at local farmers’ markets to marketing their products to retail stores may face a bit of a learning curve.

“Many farmers don’t know about the expectations of larger retailers. Things as simple as billing procedures can kill a potential deal,” he said. “Pricing is also an issue. Many farmers don’t even know what their cost of production is. So they may set or accept a price that is really not in their best financial interest.”

With answers to such questions, Ken Meyers, regional president of Whole Foods, will be the forum’s primary speaker. Lee Meyer will be part of the evening’s proceedings, as will UK extension specialists John Strang, Tim Coolong, Gregg Rentfrow and Tim Woods who are experts in production, processing and marketing. Farmers are encouraged to come with questions and be ready to participate in discussions.

“Producers who come to the forum should leave with a realistic understanding of what it will take for them to sell to Whole Foods or similar retailers and will be able to decide if that type of market should be included in their business plans,” Meyer said.

For more information, contact Lee Meyer or Alice Baesler, president of Partners for Family Farms, or the local county extension office. Preregistration is not required.