Grown in Marin
University of California
Grown in Marin

Planning the future of Marin’s agriculture

Process Focus Group
Beginning in late March, Marin's farmers, ranchers, food processors, dairy producers, agricultural organizations, agencies, and retailers have been gathering to discuss the past, present, and future of agriculture in Marin. Each of these respective groups has met together in focused discussion on what has worked for their agricultural operation and what difficulties they are facing. Together we are finding important themes and commonalities which will determine the content of the November 13, 2010, Marin Agricultural Summit, so that the Summit can best meet the needs of Marin's agricultural community.

At the Row Crops Focus Group, a collection of Marin's dedicated farmers acknowledged the benefits of being supported by local organizations, the importance of crop diversification, and the potential to share more resources. Farmers discussed concerns about labor loss and passing farmland on to future generations.

During the Livestock Focus Group, multiple generations of ranchers agreed upon the successes of being customer-driven and fostering public education about local agriculture, as well as the potential of providing ecosystem services such as habitat restoration. Ranchers also discussed the need for economic analysis and a local harvesting/processing facility, concerns about loss of labor and land transfer between generations, and improving rangeland management practices.

Food processors applauded the support they've received from local organizations, other food processors, and the ease of getting started. They echoed each other's challenges with transitioning from a small family business to something more large-scale, a lack of marketing programs, and struggles with local regulations. Our local food processors brought to light the potential of a more skilled labor force, shared facilities, and regular meetings to help each other problem-solve.

It has been inspiring and thought-provoking to gather with our local agricultural community to share successes and concerns. It is already clear that there are many shared experiences among us and we can collaborate to ensure the prosperous future of local agriculture. Stay tuned as we continue to unveil these important issues and plan the Marin Agricultural Summit for November 13, 2010. - Jenna Brager

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