Value-Added Producer Grants Available

Nearly $10.5 million in USDA grants is available to help ag producers enter into value-added activities. The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.

Grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. They may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.

Grant applications are due by Feb. 24, 2014. More information about how to apply is available on page 70260 of the November 25 Federal Register, or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.

How did your social media work during the fall season?

Many farms have come to rely on social media for a majority of their marketing during the fall season. From apples to pumpkins and corn mazes to hayrides, the fall season is quite busy for just a few weeks. Sometimes posting regular updates and responding to customers on social media become daunting tasks. Answering questions and receiving heavy criticism takes time and sometimes a toll. But, all of this will improve your brand and your ability to deal with customers in the best ways possible.

Additionally, social media has added the ability to promote your posts or tweets for just a few bucks. These may be advertising dollars you are adding to your budget, or diverting from avenues such as print media.

Twitter announced in August that it was able to prove that paid for, promoted tweets indeed made an impact. The report through Food Navigator, said that these paid-for tweets caused consumers to not only feel connected to products, but they actually bought more of the brand’s products as well. Read the story here:

So, we are wondering how it went. Can you tell us:

What were your biggest successes?
What were your biggest challenges?
What frustrated you the most using social media?
Did you pay to promote your tweets or posts?

Food Trends and Predictions

Food trends and predictions are beginning to flow as we head into the new year.  The Ohio Direct Marketing team reviews trends from industry groups, media, and other sources, to determine common findings that can benefit Ohio food and agriculture entrepreneurs and the community leaders supporting Ohio’s #1 industry.  The following are a few of the early predictions. For a complete view, join OSU Extension for a webinar of January 30, 2014. Follow this blog to get details.

Consumers will continue to seek healthy options in 2014, but with an occasional indulgent splurge. SRG’s 2014 Top Ten Food Trends include: The New Flavors of Farm-to-Table: Exotic meat – goat, rabbit and pigeon – raised by small-scale producers offer new feel-good protein choices.

Locally sourced foods, and handheld foods are some of the restaurant trends expected to rise in 2014, according to Technomic’s Take: 10 Trends for 2014.

12 Hottest food and beverage trends for restaurants and hotel dining for 2014 + 30 Buzzwords, from Baum+Whiteman, International food and restaurant consultants

What trends are you observing or predicting?


Welcome to the news blog from the Ohio Direct Marketing Team, a statewide group focused on research, education, and economic development to improve the marketing practices and market conditions to advance Ohio’s #1 industry – food and agriculture.