Communication is key between farmer and market agent

The early part of the year is probably a good time to remind farmers about their responsibilities when dealing with a market agent.

Mike Cordes - Market Floor

These responsibilities are always worth reiterating because the market agent is just that – an agent who represents the farmer on the market and sells on his behalf. As such, the agent bears a considerable responsibility.

It’s a two-way street, however. There is more to working with an agent than simply sending this person your fruit or vegetables.

Lack of timeous communication
I sometimes hear farmers complaining about their market agents. In many cases, however, when I drill down a little deeper, I find that inadequate communication is at the root of the farmer’s disgruntlement. It’s immaterial whose fault this is; the point is, the farmer and the agent did not communicate timeously and clearly with each other.

Market visits: crucial to building a relationship
As you know, one of my ongoing gripes is that some farmers never make the effort to visit the market they supply. The physical presence of a farmer on the market floor has so many benefits, and I’m bewildered that so many still do not do it.

I fully understand, of course, that a busy producer often cannot leave the farm at the drop of a hat, but market visits are an essential part of any marketing strategy. A market visit improves communication and enhances the relationship between producer and agent.

This relationship is so important that it needs regular tweaking to keep it on track and strengthen it. When somebody else is selling your produce and large sums of money are involved, common sense alone should tell you to keep in close touch with this person.

To sum up, marketing your fresh produce requires dedicated commitment from both you and your agent. And you’ll only get the best prices if you and this person work closely together.

Michael Cordes is an agricultural journalist, consultant, trainer and former farmer.