Brand boosts Whidbey farms
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
August 22, 2008 · Updated 4:52 PM
Whidbey Island’s 3 Sisters Cattle Company is hoping that branding their cows will increase meat sales.
Don’t worry. There won’t be any hot metal and smoking hides from this type of branding. It’s a marketing brand, one that will apply to a variety of meat and produce products from Whidbey Island farms.
A new marketing campaign to be unveiled in the coming months is designed specifically to propel support for agriculture on Whidbey Island.
Shelly Muzzall of 3 Sisters Cattle Company hoped the campaign will boost all forms of agriculture being produced on the island.
“I think it can benefit a lot of farms in different forms of agriculture,” Muzzall said.
The first marketing materials should be ready in September and the program should be implemented sometime in October.
Maryon Attwood, project manager for the Northwest Agriculture Business Center and member of the Whidbey Sustainable Agriculture Committee, said the marketing campaign will focus on local residents and then expand into the larger, Seattle market.
It will highlight the food produced on Whidbey Island and emphasize that it is a secure source, which should leaving an impression with consumers after the recent nationwide salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes or peppers.
“People will know that they have a safe food supply and that it is local,” Attwood said.
Although the marketing program will benefit all food producers on Whidbey Island, she said the local meat producers will find the campaign valuable, especially when a USDA certified slaughtering program gets started on Whidbey Island. Once that happens, local meat producers can sell their product to local stores and farmers’ markets directly.
The marketing campaign comes from comments made at farmer forums two summers ago. At those forums, attending farmers wanted more ways to market their products.
She said it took a long time to put together the marketing program but it will hopefully provide a boost to local agriculture and help preserve agricultural land. To help get the marketing campaign off the ground, the committee received a $10,000 grant from the Washington state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development.
“We’re interested in increasing our capacity on Whidbey Island to feed people on Whidbey Island,” Attwood said.
She said other regions of the country have had success with similar marketing campaigns.
It may be easier to put together a marketing program here because Whidbey Island’s boundaries are easy to distinguish, Attwood said.
The marketing campaign is only part of the work being done to improve local farming. Some of the programs headed up by the Northwest Agriculture Business Center include developing a market access network to connect farmers, consumers and retail businesses; developing processing facilities for livestock, poultry and produce; and promoting agricultural tourism in Northwest Washington.
There are also committees working to promote agriculture on a more local level. In addition to the sustainable agriculture committee, there are also committees concerning water issues, slow food, and eating local food.
For more information about the committees and the projects headed by the NABC, contact Attwood at 360-336-3727.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.