According to Laura Christman at Redding News,
Invigorating the local food economy goes beyond buying kale and beets at the farmers market. Food analyst Ken Meter says [Minnesotta] needs to encourage food-related businesses that would buy from farmers and keep dollars in the region.
In studying Minnesota’s food economy in several states, Meter concluded that “of the $912 million in food purchases made yearly, $800 million is spent on foods that come from outside the region.” His study shows that a state’s food economy could be strengthened by encouraging local businesses to buy directly from farmers and ranchers. As an example, he described a small Ohio dairy that sells to a nearby ice cream business. This ice cream business also buys berries and other items from local farmers to use as flavorings.
Read more on his findings here.
One of the major concerns hitting agricultural-heavy states like Ohio is the issue of family farm succession. As family farms are operated more and more like small businesses (which is in fact what they are), concerns about what will happen to the family farm when the baby boomer farmers look at retiring are taking center stage in economic development and job retention initiatives.
While there are differences between how farms and “standard” small businesses operate, when talking about succession planning, many of the issues facing farmers and their conventional business owner counterparts are very much the same.
The Star Phoenix newspaper of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada has an interesting article with some helpful hints for family farmers as they face the prospect of succession. Among the article’s salient points:
- The holidays, the time of year when the extended family is likely to be together, provide a good opportunity to have these types of discussions;
- Communication is key: don’t assume to know what other family members think about the farm business, what should happen to it going forward, and which family members might be interested in taking over operations;
- Don’t wait to the last minute to involve the next generation of ownership in management decisions;
- Treating farming children and non-farming children fairly (but not necessarily equally) is important; and
- Starting early is the retiring generation’s best friend.
Good advice for any type of small business.