Farmer's take

Buying local or supporting local?

By CHELSEA HILL
Posted 2/16/22

As I’m sitting here, the sun is out and the temperature is 50 degrees. Spring fever is starting to kick in and with it the millions of things to do to get crops planted, pastures ready, and a …

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Farmer's take

Buying local or supporting local?

Posted

As I’m sitting here, the sun is out and the temperature is 50 degrees. Spring fever is starting to kick in and with it the millions of things to do to get crops planted, pastures ready, and a myriad of other chores to make spring go smoothly. But the thought comes to mind: how can we best market ourselves this year to bring in more customers and—the most important part—how to retain them?

You see, in my opinion, there is a great difference between buying local products and supporting local businesses. Buying local means you decide to make a purchase of local products—but that could be once or twice, or perhaps only during a certain time of the year.

But supporting local to me means making the extra effort to buy those local products regularly.

So why the distinction between the two? They both are benefiting the farmer, right? Yes, they are; however, I don’t think it’s easily recognized that those who support their local farmers truly make the difference for them to stay in business year-round.

You see, when you own your own business, especially when it depends on consumer demand, you’re not guaranteed a specific salary each year. You get paid from the sales that you make, no matter if for some reason one week of sales is spectacular and the next one is dismal.

The best example that I can give is that during the pandemic, especially during the beginning when there were major shortages of many products in the stores, people flocked to their local producers in droves for food or other necessities. This meant that many producers saw the greatest profits they had in years. In many cases, the sudden high demand also put a stressor on the supply system locally, with many producers selling out and other producers forced to work two or three times harder and longer to meet the demand.

Unfortunately—or fortunately depending on how you look at it—as the products started to make their way back to the local stores, much of the demand for local produce disappeared.

Why is that so significant? Well, truth be told, it makes it near-impossible to plan the future seasons for enough supply to meet demand when you don’t know what the demand will be. It also brings to light how much more support can be going to local producers to boost the local economy.  

The main point of this farmer’s take is that in order to guarantee our local businesses (not just farmers) stay in business, we need to support them as much as possible. Not just during a major supply catastrophe, but throughout the entire year. Making a connection with a local producer creates a mutual partnership that benefits both parties during the good and bad times.

If you’re already purchasing items before a major supply change, then it’s more than likely that supply will be there for you when those changes happen, especially when you have that one-on-one relationship.

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