Focus Groups Results
- Row Crops on March 22;
- Grazing Livestock on April 6;
- Processors on April 20;
- Dairy on April 29;
- Organizations on May 18; and
- Retailers on May 20.
Three broad discussion topics were explored during each focus group. Focus group discussions began with the current state of Marin agriculture and the conditions, programs, and policies that have supported the viability of local agriculture to be viable and successful. Participants were also encouraged to discuss what has not worked or supported agriculture. The second focus group discussion theme centered on what agriculture needs to be successful in the next decade and beyond. Lastly, focus groups spent a smaller portion of time discussing how the Summit can successfully benefit Marin agriculture.
In many ways the ideas and concerns expressed during these discussions were consistent with those identified in the 1997 Agricultural Summit. The difference, however, is that the experiences and efforts to address each of these has provided concrete results and context for where to focus future planning efforts and set direction for the future. The 2010 Summit will contribute to Marin agriculture’s future if it can facilitate advancement in the following areas:
- Public Education/Messaging/Marketing: Coordinated efforts that overcome the inefficiencies individual farms and families face in improving community relations, growing the public’s understanding of the contributions that local agriculture contributes to sustainability, and increased recognition of local agricultural products and therein capture of increased revenue.
- Ecosystem Services and Energy Efficiency: Increasing the understanding of what ecosystem services and energy efficiencies are and how they are compensated so that similar programs can be developed and implemented in Marin.
- Managing Regulations and Permitting: Continued efforts are needed to review and provide alternatives for proposed regulations, as well as provide service assistance for compliance with approved regulations and permitting requirements.
- All Things Labor: Direction and initiatives that provide for a well trained, well managed, and well supported labor force.
- Farmer networking: Opportunities and structures through which growers and ranchers can interact and exchange ideas and realize opportunities. In addition, farmer and retailer networking to build relationships and increase understanding of the requirements and potential for partnerships.
- Capital and investment: Increased access to sources of capital for improvements and implementation of diversification and value-added projects.
- Predicting the Future: Sources of information and direction on market trends and feasible production options to target those trends and opportunities.
Download a complete copy of the Focus Group Summary and Notes Report (pdf) for more information.
(Acknowledgements: Sincere appreciation is expressed to each focus group participant. Their willingness to contribute to these discussions has generated a comprehensive statement on the current status and future needs for Marin agriculture and its viability. They have served the community well in taking this important step in preparing for future success.)