4.2.4 Opportunities to Expand Market Presence The most numerous opportunities to advertise and expand market presence come from programs that certify places, products, or practices (n=63). In other words, certification programs allow producers to charge premium prices for their products based on a particular aspect of either the product itself or the process through which it was produced. Place-based certifications. Certification programs that target places, or place-based certifications, recognize particular areas or farms that have ecological, historical, or cultural value. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Agriculture recognizes Pennsylvania families through the Century and Bicentennial farm programs. To qualify for such certifications, the same family must have owned the farm for at least 100 (Century Farm) or 200 (Bicentennial Farm) consecutive years. In addition, a family member must live on the farm on a permanent basis; and the farm must consist of at least 10 acres of the original holding or gross more than $1,000 annually from the sale of farm products. Product certifications. Certification programs also target a diversity of products like livestock, apples, maple products, hemp, and others, as well as non-GMO and organic certifications. For dairy products, in particular, there are various food safety and quality assurance certifications available to producers, as well as programs that certify products by origin, especially seeds. In addition, certification programs designate local products — such as the Buy Fresh Buy Local initiatives in various states as well as programs like the following:
• The #heartCTgrown program in Connecticut • True Blue Crab Meat program in Maryland • Jersey Fresh program in New Jersey
Practice-based certifications. Certification programs also designate products produced using particular practices across industries. There are animal welfare certifications, food safety certifications, and environmental certifications. Animal welfare, or certified humane, certifications designate livestock or dairy operations that meet certain criteria for raising and treating animals. Other programs, such as the USDA’s Good Agricultural Practices grower certification, encourage certain food safety practices as part of a voluntary program developed by the FDA and USDA for fruit and vegetable growers, with the goal of reducing foodborne illness. Still, other practice-based programs, like the Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program (VESP), require that producers meet high environmental standards regarding nutrient management, sediment and erosion control, soil health, greenhouse-gas emissions and carbon sequestration, and pasture health. If producers meet the standards in each category, this program awards them with a 5-year certification, an on-farm sign designating the farm as meeting high levels of environmental stewardship, and other recognition-based incentives. At the national level, there is also the Pollinator Partnership, which offers a Bee Friendly Farming program that promotes farming practices that improve pollinator populations and habitat.
Another major way for producers to expand market presence is with implementation grants.
• Coordinate and expand business presence. This includes programs that provide financial support to coordinate and expand rural and urban food businesses, such as the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program, which funds projects that develop, coordinate, and expand direct producer-to-consumer markets. Other programs, such as the Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production Competitive Grants — which aim to improve local food access and collaborate with partner organizations — provide funds that support infrastructure needs by purchasing emerging technologies, underwriting educational endeavors, and facilitating urban farming policy implementation. • Produce specialty products or diversify product selection. Programs to encourage specialty or diverse product lines include the Vermont Local Food in Your Community program, the Connecticut Farm Transition grant and the Food Export Market Entry program, which is available throughout the U.S. Northeast.
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