MarketReady webinars help farmers expand market reach

MarketReady webinars help farmers expand market reach
Vendors selling their produce at the Fallbrook Farmers Market in northwest Lincoln, Neb. July 23, 2020.” Photo by Gregory Nathan | University Communication
June 20th, 2024 | Russell Shaffer | Rural Prosperity Nebraska

Rural Prosperity Nebraska and the Heartland Regional Food Business Center, a multi-state organization focused on strengthening farm and food enterprises, are kicking off a summer-long series of market-ready webinars, beginning June 20. The MarketReady Advanced Topic Webinar Series will explore a range of topics, from insurance to packaging, aimed at aiding producers interested in expanding their businesses into retail, wholesale and restaurant markets.

The free webinars will focus on best practices that not only aid individual business, from individual farmers to major wholesalers, but encourage collaboration for a more widespread reach from local producers throughout the Midwest. Webinar topics include, June: risk management and insurance; July: marketing; August: Packaging and labeling.

Ben Jewell, the Rural Prosperity Nebraska Extension educator overseeing the webinars, shared how many small-scale farmers are unaware of affordable insurance options, and compared that to a grocery store that left their produce outside in extreme weather.

“Historically, there haven’t been insurance programs like those that exist for larger, commodity producers, for local farmers,” he said. “That’s essentially what our small farmers are dealing with. But there are some newer programs at the USDA that are starting to address the gaps in insurance options for small-scale producers.”

In addition to exploring the practicalities of insurance options and risk management practices in face of inclement weather, the webinars will cover some of the “softer” topics such as innovative product packaging and label design—both on aesthetics and necessities (such as nutrition and ingredient requirements).

“The MarketReady Advanced Topic webinars will give attendees important information that will help improve their business functions,” said Jewell. “All of the material for the webinars was developed based on interviews with more than 100 buyers from restaurants, grocery stores, and other wholesale markets. From this wealth of information, best practices were developed and used to create the content. In addition, attendees will learn from the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) and rural development experts.”

Each webinar will include presentations on the given topics, followed by a Q&A session where attendees can discuss their specific and individual concerns. 

The move from selling at a local farmers market to a wholesaler comes with a necessity to increase production, which comes with increased risk. These webinars aim to help farmers mitigate that risk by sharing the expertise and experiences from individuals throughout the Heartland.

The MarketReady Advanced Topic Webinar schedule is as follows: 

June 20

1 to 2 p.m. CT

Topic: Risk management and insurance

July 18

1 to 2 p.m. CT

Topic: Marketing

Aug. 15

1 to 2 p.m. CT

Topic: Packaging and labeling

Registration for all webinars is free and can be found on the Heartland Regional Food Business Center website.


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