Farmers and ranchers near Omaha, Des Moines and Kansas City are invited to lead a research project on cooperative marketing of branded organic foods. Our goal is to increase farm and ranch profits by convincing grocery and food service customers in these cities to buy locally produced organic beef, pork and poultry.
There is interest among investment bankers and advisers in financing regional brands. These finance professionals and their firms recognize that most consumers want healthy, locally produced foods. They also understand that only regional brands (as opposed to brands with limited local distribution) have the potential to compete with imported organic brands from outside of our trade area. I have also discussed this project with experienced retail food marketers in Omaha, Kansas City and Cincinnati.
To make the most of the potential economic, health and environmental benefits of increased organic production in our region, we want to encourage competing producer-owned brands at the retail level. In this regard, investor and consumer confidence will be enhanced if government agencies, food industry groups and land grant universities work together on a regional basis with producers and their cooperatives to increase organic food quality and reduce costs.
Key areas of basic and applied research include livestock, poultry and feed genetics as they relate to soil quality, consumer health and food preferences. A regional approach to these issues could be funded by food industry groups in cooperation with federal, state and local governments.
Once our brand development team is in place, we will look for market research funds. In the interests of regional and inter-local cooperation (and competition), we intend to make the raw research data along with our analysis available to all interested investors and farmers in the region. We think multiple producer-owned brands will attract more investors and offer more opportunities to compete with imported brands.
Raised Free Brand
The market research results will underpin business plans for Raised Free and other farmer-owned brands. In our case, investors will be invited to fund marketing and processing in return for a negotiated share of future wholesale and retail profits. This means that participating producers, their families and landowners will not be subject to liens for marketing and processing expenses.
Massena Beef Production Cooperative
If the research results are favorable and investor support is available, we intend to organize a beef production cooperative in the Massena, Iowa area where we own a half-section of permanent pasture. Pork and poultry will added at a later date. We would be delighted to help organize other local production cooperatives, either under the Raised Free banner or other producer-owned brands with regional aspirations.
Member producers will manage livestock and crops under private lease agreements with the current land owners, and with support from a farm management group(s) selected by the members. As explained on page 2 of this website, the members will also select legal and financial professionals to advise them on investor relations, contracts and securities requirements, etc.
Research Funding and Oversight
This professionally managed research project will be funded by grants from individuals, organizations and government agencies with interests in rural economic development, regenerative agriculture and consumer health. The results will be presented during public meetings in the region.
Farmers and ranchers will lead the Project Oversight Committee. This committee will select research consultants and approve the research design, budget and schedule. A preliminary research design is outlined below.
Task I: Definition of Terms
The first task will define terms, including free-range, pasture-based, organic, regenerative and others. The objective is a standard set of production methods with written descriptions that can be easily understood by consumers and verified across the supply chain.
Task II: Current Sales and Sources
With Task I definitions in hand, feeders, packers, brokers, dealers and retailers will be asked to describe the sources and estimate the current volume and dollar value of similar products sold in the region. Some price information is available through the USDA’s National Monthly Grass Fed Beef Report.
Task III: Regional Supply Analysis
Producers and processors in the region will be invited to informal meetings to discuss the need for a regional approach to marketing and processing meat and poultry from pasture-based (regenerative) production systems. Discussion topics will include the sources of livestock and poultry for the market test, organization and financing of local production cooperatives and processing for the market test.
Task IV: Consumer Demand Analysis
Consumers will be invited to participate in surveys, focus groups and tastings. To the extent possible, beef, pork and poultry samples will be purchased from area producers. Participants will be asked for their opinions of the taste, price and benefits of regionally produced and processed meat and poultry raised according to standards developed in Task I.
Please contact me for more information. Thank you.