Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thank a Farmer

We recently had National Farm Appreciation Week and Stokes County will be having its annual Farmer Appreciation Day this Thursday. In honor of this, I wanted to reprint some information I received from the Agurban Newsletter about agriculture in America:

Thank a Farmer!

Last week (March 13-19, 2011) was National Agriculture Week in the United States, with March 15, 2011, designated as National Agriculture Day. This is a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, agencies, and countless others across America gather to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by Agriculture. The National Ag Day program is committed to increasing public awareness about American agriculture. Incidentally, National Agriculture Week always coincides with the first day of spring.

As the world population soars, there is even greater demand for the food and fiber that the United States farmer produces. American agriculture must meet global needs for food and fiber now and in the future.

Here are few facts about American agriculture:

2.2 million: At the end of 2009, there were 2,200,010 farms in the United States, a loss of 90 farms from the previous year. This translates into a $200 billion industry.
54.4 percent: In 2007, the majority of U.S. farms were smaller than 100 acres.
4.8 million acres: Between 2006 and 2008, the country gained almost 2 million acres of certified organic farmland. The certification process is lengthy and time consuming. If you prefer organic vegetables, talk to your farmer. Ask him about his farming practices. There are growers who follow organic practices but are too small of an operation to afford the governmental processes.
12 percent: Americans only consume a small amount of the corn produced here every year. The majority -- around 80 percent- - of the United States corn crop is used to feed livestock, poultry and fish throughout the world.
24 to 26 hours: The amount of time it takes a hen to produce an egg, starting the process all over again about 30 minutes after laying. The next time you're enjoying a three-egg omelet remember: it took a chicken more than three days to make your breakfast.
5 cents: Is farming a high-profit enterprise? The average farmer receives approximately 5 cents from every loaf of bread you buy. The last time I checked the price of Wonder Bread at the grocery store, it was almost $2 a loaf. Who gets the other $1.95?2 million: Honey bees are hard workers. In order to make one pound of honey, they have to visit 2 million flowers. Buying your honey from local producers keeps money in the local economy and is better for your health. If you suffer from allergies, those same pollens that cause your itchy eyes and sneezing will become part of your honey, helping to build immunity.
So if you have abundant food on your table and do not go to bed hungry, thank a farmer. The American Agricultural industry is perhaps one of the most important in the world!

Thanks to all the farmers in our county. We support you and we hope our efforts to develop a strong Local Food organization will have an impact on the amount of income you get to keep!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Food for thought

As we see fuel cost escalating quickly and close on its heels rising food prices, it is time to think a little harder about where are food comes from, who is making money on it and if this is the best process. Here is a link to a story from the USDA on the current breakdown on where our food dollar goes. While it probably raises more questions than it answers, it is an eye opener. Take a moment to read the story, look at the comments and start developing your own ideas about this important issue in our world today: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2011/02/usda-recalculates-distribution-of-food-dollar/

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Social Networking for Small Business

I have spent some time recently working with small businesses and talking about varying marketing options. In connection with this, I found this blog recently and thought it was good information and has several valuable links. Hope it helps:

Social Networking – What’s the Big Deal?
Posted on March 1, 2011 by Ina Lejins
You’ve seen them — Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, MySpace, Slashdot, Blinklist, Newsvine, and hundreds more — little social networking icons popping up on most websites and blogs, each one a portal into communities built around social interaction and sharing common interest.

Each social network serves as a common meeting ground and, just as some folks prefer chocolate over vanilla, each social community has its own flavor of followers.

So what is the big deal? Social media has soared to the top of the news mainly because of the sheer number of participants and the subsequent effects of sharing information virally. It’s the old-fashioned way of spreading news with a new-tech touch. Not unlike the effect of television… back in the day.

With social networking, news can spread fast presenting opportunities to showcase your business, or your cause, to people you have never met.

If you are reading this you may already be familiar with social networking as are over 600 million people on the planet who currently use the top social networking platform, Facebook. But perhaps you’re one of the many entrepreneurs or business owners scratching their heads asking, “Just how can (or even if) social networking help my business reach new markets and increase sales?”

Can social media help my business? While social networking may very well become a marketing cornerstone for your business in the future, it requires targeted decisions and a clear plan; and for some, it might mean picking up a few new ‘social’ skills.

Ask yourself the following to determine if social networking might benefit your business:

1. Who are your customers and target markets? Consider their age and demographics for clues about how technically integrated they might be.

2. Where do your customers socialize on the Web? For example, specific age groups trend toward Facebook while other demographics seek more detailed information by following blogs or engaging in forums related to their interests.

3. Is your business primarily local or is it available nationally or globally? While geography may no longer be the barrier it once was, factor in culture, language and locality to determine which social media platform best speaks to your audience.

A little research goes a long way. Once demographics are established, take time to develop a clear social networking plan for your entrance into social media. The result will be well worth the initial effort. Below you will find a number of tools to help you wet your feet in the social media pool.

Resource Links:

Five Organizing Principles for Social Media in 2011
Top 15 Social Networking Sites

Resource Videos:

Short video featuring Mari Smith, well-known Social Media guru explaining Twitter Tips for Beginners

View a quick 3 minute video – Marketing with Facebook

Take a peek into the social media revolution, a dynamic YouTube video produced by Erik Qualman, author of “Social Media ROI: Socialnomics”, which illustrates how far the mind-boggling usage social media has reached in just a few years.