A small but growing number of farms and ranches are pursuing new ways to market their products and connect to their communities, according to statistics from the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture.
Farmers sell fresh agricultural products directly to consumers in a variety of ways — through farmers markets, roadside stands, pick-your-own operations, community supported agriculture arrangements, and other efforts. Throughout the United States, 144,530 farms sold $1.3 billion in fresh edible agricultural products directly to consumers in 2012. This was a 6% increase in farms, and an 8% increase in sales, over 2007, the last time the agriculture census was conducted.
Twenty-nine percent of farms selling directly to consumers specialized in vegetable, fruit and nut farming in 2012 and 25% specialized in beef procution.
The summer issue of Rural Lifestyle Dealer profiles Meuer Farms, an agritourism operation in Chilton, Wis. David and Leslie Meuer provide this overview of their 150-acre operation:
"Our agri-tourism activities include educational components to help you learn more about farming. Maple syrup making, strawberry growing, rotational grazing of animals, beekeeping and crop rotation are just a few of the activities we explain."
Watch for the summer issue to learn more about the equipment the Meuers use and how they work with their dealers.