PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. — For many farmers, producing crops or meat comes more naturally than selling their wares.
But for direct-marketing farmers, interpersonal and even artistic skills can be keys to success.
Over 150 people came from around Maryland to the first Southern Maryland Agricultural Marketing Conference on Nov. 15 at the College of Southern Maryland Prince Frederick Campus.
The four tracks were new and beginning farms, advanced marketing, statewide training, and emerging industries.
Sessions included using smartphone photos to promote the farm brand, pricing, and tips for displaying produce.
The conference brought together many topics that people had been requesting training on, said organizer Karyn Owens of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission.
“It was awesome,’’ said Jeni Malott, who operates a dairy, farm creamery and agritourism business with her family in Smithsburg.
“We learned what has worked for other farmers, in regards to value-added products and services, that have made their farms more profitable. It was a great place to connect with and learn from service providers and fellow farmers.”
The conference ended with a networking reception with U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.
The senators recently secured several Maryland ag priorities in a Senate-passed spending bill, including $16 million for USDA’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, a $25 million bump for flood prevention, and a $122 million increase for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service research on aquaculture and shellfish.
“The conference’s focus on marketing brought incredible knowledge and value to the industry,” said Kevin Atticks, founder of local agritourism and value-added consulting firm Grow & Fortify.
“Attending the conference both as a farmer who direct markets to the public and as a session panelist, I found the event very interesting and well attended. The guests were engaged and asked lots of questions, and as a panelist I was happy to pass along some of the knowledge I’ve gleaned over the years in the business,” said Karl Shlagel, a southern Maryland farmer.