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Across the Editor's Desk: January 2009

Agriculture.com Staff 01/27/2009 @ 11:48am

Here are seven little trends and observations to chew on while you await the next surprise in the economy or commodity markets. These ideas are courtesy of Mark Bequeaith, who studies consumer behavior for Better Homes and Gardens magazine and other sister publications of Successful Farming magazine.

  1. Deep freezers are hot. The deep freezer was the appliance with the strongest growth last year. Consumers seek to save money by buying in bulk.
  2. Home cooking is cookin'. Consumers say they plan to eat out less. Plus, the trend of number of women entering the workforce is now flat.
  3. Gardening is growing. More consumers are adding a garden to their yards. Garden seed sales boomed last year.
  4. More consumers want to know more about the foods they eat. The desire by consumers to seek good information to help them eat healthy and follow good nutrition continues to grow.
    Upshot from trends 1-4: Is there an enterprise or business model for you to consider for your operation that will help you profit from these trends?
  5. Babies are back. The number of births in the U.S. in 2007 was near the highs of the 1950s.
    Upshot from trend 5: American farmers take pride in helping feed the world. Now more of those younger mouths will be right here at home.
  6. More of you are the media. Younger consumers increasingly contribute to Web sites and write blogs. Older consumers are still less inclined to share their viewpoints and experiences online.
  7. There is a huge age split on online social networks. Many younger consumers love networking with friends and family on such sites as Facebook. A vast number of older consumers are leery of such sites. Many even consider them dangerous.

Farmers for the Future, a network for young and beginning farmers (www.farmersforthefuture.com), is a rapidly growing testament to the desire of young farmers to meet each other and to share ideas.

Launched less than three months ago, the site now includes more than 500 registered members. Participants trade ideas in forums and post blogs, pictures, and videos. The site is sponsored by The Farm Credit System Foundation and by DeKalb.

Online networking is fun and helpful, but there is nothing quite like meeting other like-minded aspiring young farmers face to face. So Successful Farming, Agriculture Online, and DeKalb will sponsor a Farmers for the Future Conference in St. Louis on February 17-18. The fee is $179, and attendance is limited to help encourage greater interaction among those who attend. For complete details or to register, visit www.farmersforthefuture.com or call 800/678-8386.

Keynote speaker is family business consultant Don Jonovic. He writes the "Can their problem be solved?" column in every issue of SF. He will draw on many years of experience with helping farm families take the right steps to grow the business.

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