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Students Market Food Products
By Jenny Bjelland
UW-RF News Bureau
MARCH 11, 2005--Through a new USDA Challenge grant, UW-River Falls students
are learning how to direct market agricultural products. The grant, dubbed
"Pig-to-Plate," aims to create a student-run company to produce,
market and distribute pork products from the UW-RF swine herd.
UW-RF animal science professor Gary Onan and agricultural economics professor
Brenda Boetel wrote and proposed the two-year grant, which began in September
According to Onan there is a demand for such a unique, hands-on course.
"Direct marketing of agricultural products is a growing industry,
and no other UW-RF course was designed to address the nuts-and-bolts of
direct marketing," said Onan. Many small farms have implemented direct
marketing or niche marketing of their food products to increase sales
and ease the pressure from larger farming operations.
The new curriculum will give students direct marketing experience as they
work to develop an enhanced market for the UW-RF hog operation. Currently
the first of two courses is being offered. The introductory course aims
to familiarize the 11 enrolled students with the direct marketing concept
through the completion of a mock business marketing plan for an agricultural
product of their choice.
Students will select their own product, perhaps one they could produce
from their own farm, and then develop a marketing plan for that product
based on its unique characteristics.
Other topics covered by the course include government food-handling regulations,
competitive analysis, financial analysis, product presentation, and advertising
The second course offers students a hands-on learning experience. According
to Onan and Boetel, co-teachers of both courses, the students will create
a limited liability corporation to manufacture, market and distribute
UW-RF pork products. Students enrolled in the second course will determine
a marketing plan for the products and then serve as production line managers
for the duration of the semester. Clubs from the College of Agriculture,
Food and Environmental Sciences will have the opportunity to buy into
the corporation and can also receive added returns by serving as the supply
labor for the company. "The goal," says Onan, "is to start
marketing the product sometime before next Christmas."
Said CAFES Dean Steve Ridley, "I believe this is a wonderful and
unique opportunity for students to participate in hands-on learning activities
that require real-world problem-solving and decision-making skills. The
Pig-to-Plate program, when fully implemented, will be a student-managed
agribusiness venture providing experiences that transcend the entire food
chain from animal genetics through production, processing and marketing
of food products. Opportunities for success and, of course, failure abound
at every step."
The Pig-to-Plate grant offers students and CAFES clubs members' practical
experience as an integral part of a direct marketing operation. Faculty
hope that within two years the corporation will be running successfully,
so that the profits can be used to carry the course and concept on to
future UW-RF students.
Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:20 Central Daylight Time