Agriculture

Crop and Product Diversification

Crop and product diversification is a general practice that increases the region’s crop portfolio, so that farmers are not dependent on a single crop to generate their income. Stearns County strongly encourages crop and product diversification to ensure the viability of farming throughout the county and region for years to come.

“The importance of crop and product diversification is critical as climate scenarios, economic markets, and federal subsidies are changing more rapidly.”

Stearns County’s role in crop and product diversification is somewhat limited. We can influence crop and product diversification through the education and promotion of sustainable farming practices that result in positive impacts to our economy and environment. As part of this role, the County has placed a greater emphasis on “value-added” products.



Policies

  1. Encourage the diversification of crops and products to enhance Stearns County’s regional agricultural presence.
  2. Recruit industries that utilize local production to improve the County’s capture of value-added industries.

Crop and Product Diversification Benefits

  • Establishes new markets that are separate from the rest of the region.
  • Reduces the need for environmentally harmful inputs such as pesticides.
  • Results in greater yields and higher nutritional value of food crops.
  • Diversifies the local economy and protects against crop failure.
  • Ensures food security, while adapting to changing climates.
  • Improves soils and soil stability through cover crops, allowing farmers to be more productive on each acre, while protecting adjacent waterways and keeping nutrients where they are located.
Value Added Agriculture: Value added agriculture is a means of promoting the diversification of crops and products. Value added refers generally to strategies by which agricultural commodities such as crops or livestock are transformed into products of greater perceived value by the consumer and result in extended economic growth for the community or region. The US Department of Agriculture, Rural Business Development defines value added agricultural products as follows:

  • A change in the physical state or form of the product such as turning milk into cheese, milling wheat into flour, or making strawberries into jam.
  • The production of a product in a manner that enhances its value such as organically produced products that command a higher retail price.
  • The physical segregation of an agricultural commodity or product in a manner that results in the enhancement of the value of that commodity or product such as an identity preserved marketing system.

The County can support the Department of Agriculture to promote better integration of producers with local retail markets and encourage more diversity in crop production, better local branding, improved cooperative efforts among agricultural producers, and other efforts to add value and lessen risk for the County’s agricultural base.

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