October 2012 Meeting
Discussion minutes: Note that many issues raised in first question also relate to societal issues in last question.
What are the challenges facing the horticulture industry and its interface with rural/urban places the next 2-5 years?
Business Issues are constant. Those who do produce are trained to be the best producers but not necessarily trained how to sell. It is almost as though there needs to be a place to work through a business plan to be successful. Maybe there could be a South Dakota Business Center to address these issues.
Exit Strategies are needed for producers. The example was discussed that horticulture businesses become a lifestyle after a number of years in business. The point was made that a lifestyle does not equate to a business. Producers leaving the business side also leave the lifestyle of being a producer and may consider such a move as a failure if their lifestyle is no longer associated with their business.
Selling produce into institutional markets. One producer alone might have the first delivery of produce be good as far as orders. A truck running with the same sole producer might not have enough sold at each location the next week so less is not sold out of each route. The suggestion was there is room to organize a cooperative of producers with different types of produce for distribution with a route to make it profitable and more predictable in dealing with those markets.
Pest Overspray in Sensitive Crops. The suggestion came forward that there is a need for maps on the locations of sensitive cropping systems to protect the livelihood of those producers.
Organizing Specialty Crops Producers. The South Dakota Specialty Crop Producers organization at one time may have had membership of 60 to 70 but it is now down to 2 dozen members. Specialty Cops include:
- SD Winegrowers
- Grass-fed beef
- Seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable production
- Local foods for South Dakota - the example was Aronia1, the chokeberries
- Eggs - free range
- Row crops using Buy Fresh Buy Local Branding
- Farmers Markets = group marketing
- Entry-level workforce and advancement in the industry challenging. Wages are an issue. It is difficult to attract a college graduate into a supervisory position when the salary is in the range of $20,000 to $30,000! There may be some takers but the turnover is great, requiring constant training. The cycle is train/turnover/they work elsewhere and sometimes out of the industry to make more wages.
Economics of Horticultural Industries. The societal impact of low wages was discussed in relationship to:
- Often ethnic groups might come to a community to fill low entry level wage jobs
- There was a question as to how to house entry-level employees without barracks-type conditions as a $20-$30k salary may only be able to afford housing in the range of $70-$120k.
- Entry level wages are often $18-$24k/year
- With low wages and limited housing options the business that attracts/employs low wage earners may become viewed as disruptive to the community if only temporary housing is available and workers cannot be assimilated into the community.
- Example cited was Sioux City Iowa - in loosing good manufacturing jobs they were replaced with entry-level wage jobs but the community lacked a planned infrastructure to deal with associated issues in education and housing.
- May need governments to facilitate and help with infrastructure. Yet governments are not taking the “view from 30,000 feet up” to look/evaluate the total impact of these issues.
- Employees can be good citizens
- Then there is the seasonal nature of employees that are kept year around with busy work or they must find another off-season job. There is a challenge with the seasonality of the work and employers may need to, and benefit from developing ancillary business options for off season (hardscape work for landscaping industries was an example).
Specialty Producers or Local Food Niche Market share target is 10% of market
Expectations and Reality of Food Quality, Food Safety, and Supply/Delivery.
- Trend is toward a 3rd party verification of foods (quality, safety, Etc.)
- The liability of a verification process is often greater than the return on the sale of the food products.
- There needs to be a cooperative method in place to share costs of verification processes that will be demanded by consumers.
Producers participating in the Urban/Rural Interface agreed that they receive good advice on production and that they can “all out produce ourselves”. Yet opportunities to aid producers lie in the following areas:
- Really need to help producers through the regulatory maize.
- Agency compliance issues
- Commodity associations can be a outlet to work through if they have a strong association to pass through the education on such issues.
Opportunities facing horticulture industry next 2-5 years?
How can growers connect with a productive work force?
- Develop FFA
- Develop 4-H
The example was offered up...Anderson Landscape. It has a Hispanic work force. They understand the process of working with this labor force and the transition of workers into their company. They also provide sound housing alternatives.
- There is a need to create a labor force within sustainable systems
- Communicate to city leaders
- Communicate possible solutions
- Have emphasis on Community Local Food Systems
- Connect urban folks to “rural” experiences by establishing “urban farms” (ag, gardens, orchard) and let the local community decide as far as profit or non-profit organization status/mission.
- There needs to be a growing connection to the source of food and horticulture products
- One option may be to use the concept of community vitality to focus City Parks Departments toward community garden experiences...citizens being entertained in the activity of planned gardens and as a result enhance the social aspect of gardening.
- SDSU potential involvement could be to help establish such urban farms and farmer markets through parks departments. SDSU could be the driver in education and facilitation skills to develop community mentors at which time it would then be handed off by SDSU so as to be sustainable.
SDSU has the opportunity to help/facilitate organizations to become more sustainable.
An important factor in associations is choosing young people to get involved. Websites for associations must be up-to-date and inviting as a source of current information as young people communicate by what they can do on their phone to keep in touch and up to date.
SDSU can lift up associations to get younger folks involved and have then communicate regularly.
There is a need to incentivize community leaders to create the best environment so the 35 to 45 age groups have a compelling reason to stay in that community to sustain that community. Mike McCurry (SDSU) was mentioned as having the census data, as far as age distributions by community. The comment was made that there needs to be more engagement of community leaders (Dale Larsen from Brookings was named as an example) to challenge all community leaders to come together with programs and opportunities to sustain the communities they live in and to stop the “brain drain”.
What does South Dakota’s future look like? How can SDSU partner with others to insure realization of this future?
- Need to be more cooperative - example financial decision making on farm issues is a need.
- SDSU Extension should be involved with trade organizations
- Must be a leader in science based information
- Let trade organizations work with those facts that are science based
- Must maintain contacts with associations
- SDSU has to be an “anchor” in the process
- Produce more Information fact sheets with “bullet point facts” with links to research if the reader is in doubt.
- Market people and success stories of entrepreneurial efforts
- SDSU Fact Sheets carry credibility with them! A credible position.
- SDSU should stick to land grant mission...get back to core missions
Example of Vermillion Cooperative – maybe SDSU could have assisted?
- Wanted to set up articles of incorporation with by-laws,
- Wanted to know individuals liability when serving as a board member
- May be an opportunity for a Fact Sheet even if the outcome is to consult an attorney.
Food/Nutrition- behaviors change in food/nutrition choices prior to 8th or 9th grade the change will be carried on. There is an opportunity for championing the food for nutrition and health effort. SDSU + Industry + Famers Markets + Local Foods equal a positive effort to pursue. Drivers are:
- Local food doesn’t carry the transportation costs
- Children grow up on food not necessarily prepared in the home
- Food preparation and nutrition classes in most schools no longer offered
- Opportunity to educate to cook, to preserve and can, to garden!
- So much potential in “Yard-Scape”
- “Earth-Pick-Eat...what we can grow locally is better than mass produce
- Revisit the “Victory Garden” concept from WWII - a new brand for new challenges.
- Landscape/hardscape/raised beds/outdoor activities & living
- Provide Fact Sheets that emphasize the need for locating horticultural activities in good locations.
- Bad locations make for poor production and non-sustainable horticultural outcomes
1Being unfamiliar with the crop this background is from Wikipedia: Juice from these berries is astringent and not sweet, but high in vitamin C and antioxidants. The berries can be used to make wine, jam, syrup, juice, soft spreads, and tea. In the U.S., aronia berries are used in mass-marketed juice blends for color and marketed for their antioxidant properties. The Voruta label exports a Chokeberry wine from Lithuania. In Poland they are dried to make an herbal tea. The tea is usually a blend with other more flavorful ingredients including blackcurrant. Aronia is also used as a flavoring or colorant for beverages or yogurts. The red chokeberry’s fruit is more palatable and can be eaten raw. It has a sweeter flavor than the black species and is used to make jam or pemmican