Monday 23 April 2012

Fair Pricing (For Whom?)

As we are coming up on the growing season, it's time to consider our potential for surpluses and what we might sell for money.
It's especially challenging trying to decide to intentionally produce more than we need in order to generate cash.
There is an investment required which is significant.
There is a great potential for loss, disappointment, and heartache.
Farming has always been considered a risky venture.
Farming on a small scale, the odds are stacked heavily against you.

There are no effects or improvements on this photo!

I do not want to generate any sympathy by discussing the hardships facing the small farm.
I would, however, like to have the discussion and promote some education on the subject.
The fact is that the small family farm is quickly becoming nothing more than a story in a children's book.
It's ironic that we teach our children about farms through picturesque storybooks when it is, in fact, an utterly inaccurate depiction.
Perhaps if our kids know the truth, then the future of our food supply will not be so doubtful.
Perhaps if we, ourselves knew the truth, there wouldn't be so much resistance to change.

By offering food for sale, we place ourselves in the same competitive market as the the multinational food corporations;  against whom, we don't stand a chance.
The offering must be an alternative to what is currently available.
Of course, if there is no willing market for the alternative, there will be no sales.
Of the challenges within the alternative foods market is the insidious lack of integrity among many of the producers.
You may not be assured of being told the truth when buying a premium alternative product.
A popular cereal was removed from health food stores in recent days due to a revelation of misrepresentation.
If you pay close attention, premium alternative products are frequently exposed as frauds or for promoting slick and misleading claims.
So, the honest producers are left competing on a uneven playing field.
What a sad state of affairs.
There will be no positive outcome if the food distribution system is not reformed.

As we decide how to price our products we find that the greater challenge will be to find the market.
And, while we can supply ourselves with food, it would be a great benefit to our long term success if we are able to generate revenue from surplus production.
The balance lies within fairness.

Ethical and sustainable farming must be complimented by ethical and sustainable pricing.

Ethical in this sense would be not gouging the customer by selling for far more than a product's worth.
Sustainable would be selling for a price that covers costs and labour, while providing additional profit for growing and investing in the farm.
Without striking that balance, we will fail.

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