Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
So I've been through all the thinking and I've finally decided what sort of farm enterprise I want to do and where I'd like to live. As I begin the search for the right piece of land I discover to my surprise that someone is already doing exactly what I wanted to do, in the same area!
I know in days gone by this wasn't such an issue for farmers because they were all selling wholesale and didn't really see another farmer as direct competitor. But if someone is - for instance - selling pastured lamb direct, what will be their reaction to someone moving in down the road and doing the same thing?
I know some might say that the farmer may be very happy to see more people getting interested in producing raising animals humanely/producing quality food/protecting the environment/etc. On the other hand I I can't help but think they may feel threatened by the competition. They may have spent a long time and exerted a lot of effort creating a market for their produce. Perhaps they've only just finally started making a tiny profit, on which they can sustain themselves in the country. In such a situation I imagine they may not be too pleased to have someone setting up the same thing down the road.
So what do you think? Are they likely to be pleased, displeased, or indifferent? A threat or an opportunity? How should I approach this??
I would talk to the farmer and get his/her feedback and take it from there. Who knows you might just be told that there is more than enough business to go around.
I cannot imagine any 2 small farms ever being exactly alike. And predicting someone else's response to anythings seems impossible to me. You just never know what someone else is going to think, say or do.
I think I would start by finding out if there is additional market for your product in that area. It is not only the existing farmer that will be dealing with competition. You also need to have a market. Make it easy on yourself. If there is no market or it is already saturated, why would you set up operation there? If plenty of market exists, everyone has opportunity to access it and you are not a "threat".
Thanks for your replies.
Village Wisdom - that's fair enough. I guess my next question would be that if I think there is room in the market for the both of us, would it be wise to approach these people? On one hand, if they get upset but I still want to go ahead with my plans, then it probably would have been better to not have approached them at all.
On the other hand, the amount I could learn from these people would be enormous...their experiences to date in producing such livestock, in that part of the country...what works..what doesn't etc etc. Furthermore, they might see it as mutually beneficial to work together sharing logistical costs, pooling the buying of inputs, etc.
I say be yourself. Sounds like you really want to get to know them. If they are going to get upset then now or later -- it matters not. Give it a try when you are ready. See what happens. Go from there. Hopefully it will work out for both of you. Even if it does not in the beginning, I've found that killing them with kindness is irresistible. It may take time but they will come to be your friends and perhaps allies.
Good luck to you in your adventure. Keep us posted.
I don't know what area you are planning on moving into, but if there is only one sheep breeder direct marketing then having another one won't hurt a thing as long as there is demand for lamb.
In our experience, we could never raise enough lamb to meet the demand no matter where we lived we would have welcomed a partner or someone else offering lamb.
With today the way things are naturally grown meat their will never be enough of it. You can talk to the guy down the road let him know what you will be doing maybe he will have some tips on people he doesnt sell to that might want some or something like resturants that he doesnt sell to or something. good luck and have fun !
I'd go and visit the farmers and be upfront (in a friendly way). See if there are ways you can complement each others enterprises. I once visited a farmer and while buying some eggs, asked his advice when I explained that I was hoping to start up a similar farm. He was great, gave me ton's of advice and said that he would be delighted to have more farmers like him in the area as he was not able to supply the demand he was getting from customers. Although you are entering a niche market, demand on average is far exceeding supply. Honesty and friendliness is the best policy, if the farmer is any good at his job and has a satisfied client list then he won't be worried about competition. He/she may even help you to get a customers
We have a similar problem with an even worse moral twist: the main guy who sells eggs, and the woman who sells goat milk products at our farmers market both rely on the money for a living, while it's just a hobby for us. Thankfully, we found a separate outlet for our eggs, selling them to the dairy farm next door for their milk n' eggs combo for their customers, who don't overlap with the farmers market crowd at all. As for goat's milk, instead of focusing on the soft cheeses, I decided to change my focus to making one fantastic hard cheese and soaps. Excess kids will be sold or kept for our own use as meat.
Thanks for the input all. It sounds like it would be best to seek them out and chat with them about my intentions. I'm hoping they take it in good spirits