Tough Market Conditions Ripe Environment for Value-Added Arizona Agriculture

Tough Market Conditions Ripe Environment for Value-Added Arizona Agriculture
The author enjoys another food product with simple value-adds: Sweet corn in a cup with spices and other toppings added.

The partners exhibited unrestrained energy and enthusiasm that’s contagious. They know their product, the market potential and what it takes to scale. And, it’s all dependent on a rare breed of dairy goats: Swiss Oberhasli.

Established in 2009 in beautiful Prescott, Arizona, Capream Dairy is a fully operational USDA Grade A goat dairy, recently insured by Farm Bureau Financial Services. Their premium milk from the rare Swiss Oberhasli goat breed produces wonderfully tasty milk (I personally taste-tested) where the company plans to manufacture milk, gelato, and cheese. Owner Gary Carder can’t wipe the smile off his face; he knows he’s got something here. 

Or, what about Paul Rovey of Rovey Dairy and his newest herd; a bit smaller and woolly? His newest herd management endeavors include sheep he’s milking for their quality sheep cheese. He’s adding to his product list with a quality cheese that’s already being fawned over by high-end chefs and others because again the market opportunity is ripe for value-added products in the agriculture industry.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines value-added products as a change in the physical state or form of the product; the production of a product in a manner that enhances its value, as demonstrated through a business plan. Something we’ve been doing in agriculture for a long time, but with some of the income struggles in agriculture and depressed commodity prices often dominating the news, some contend the only way to growth is finding the value-added product in your agriculture business.

For decades agriculture-based businesses have been superstars at aggressive efficiency efforts (cost-cutting) work to boost margins. But today, most contend that an agriculture business cannot survive if it does not simultaneously spend the money to develop and market new on-trend products where they exist. So, in considering these opportunities, where might you be?

And, if most U.S. farmers struggle to overcome the triple dose of bad news: trade disputes, low crop prices and, in some cases catastrophic weather occurrences, what are we doing to find the silver lining surrounding these sobering clouds?

According to the USDA and the latest Census of Agriculture (2017) just released, one of the fastest-growing dimensions in the agriculture industry is agritourism. This is certainly no accident. Farmers and ranchers are looking for those opportunities to grow the business, agritourism is yet another opportunity.

Personally, I believe Arizona agriculture has a lock on this kind of agriculture creativity and innovation. Look at our mix of agritourism throughout the state, unique agriculture products, and unusual crops. With hemp coming online, we’ll output a slew of value-added products (don’t believe it, spend some time on Arizona Farm Bureau’s fillyourplate.org).

As more and more farms and ranches and more and more of agriculture tries to connect food to consumers, we’ll have more of the public’s embrace. They’ll spend their dollars and we’ll improve our margins for the business.

And, if agritourism or a special value-added product gets consumers engaged on the farm or talking about what we do, it only increases the public embrace. Who doesn’t want to make an extra dollar and tell the Arizona agriculture story at the same time?

 

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