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March/April 2002

Inside This Issue:

 

Guide Offers Advice on Starting, Strengthening Farmers' Markets
Nothing beats the freshness and taste of the farm produce and locally made goods that are sold at area farmers' markets. These markets not only provide communities with products straight from their local producers, but they also offer tangible benefits to the community in the form of economic health.

If your community is looking to start a farmers' market, and needs advice on getting started, check out Starting and Strengthening Farmers' Markets in Pennsylvania, a revised and updated guide now available from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

The guide, which was originally published in 1994 by the Center and Penn State Cooperative Extension - Lehigh County Office, offers basic advice on how to get a farmers' market up and running, and how to use various promotional tools and advertising tactics to keep it going strong.

Getting started
Often, the toughest part of any new project is getting started. And just as the title suggests, Starting and Strengthening Farmers' Markets in Pennsylvania will help any community do just that. The guide offers step-by-step points on how to form a team, find sponsors, develop a marketing strategy, and establish an organizational structure for the market.

For example, the guide suggests that the first step to starting a market is to put together a team. The team's prime responsibility is to find growers who would be interested in participating in the market. The team should find enough interested growers to achieve a critical mass of vendors, a suggested minimum of three.

A nice mix of growers, bakers, and vendors who offer plants and producer-made crafts, will also enhance the market's overall appeal to consumers.

Finding a sponsor who is able to offer some initial capital to get things up and running, and conducting an exploratory meeting directed toward other potential sponsors and vendors are other practical tips offered.

Market Strategy
After the team and meeting participants agree that there is a need and a desire to start the farmers' market, the group should answer four important questions to develop a strategy for the farmers' market. By answering the questions, the farmers' market team will be able to set objectives, and define and learn more about the market's targeted customers.

To recruit farmers for a seasonal market, the market team should provide farmers with some idea of their sales potential, which can be done by calculating the market's "share point." A share point is a marketing tool used to estimate the market's potential sales. The more share points a market is able to capture, the higher the sales for each farmer.

The formula for determining share points is provided in the guide, along with a sample.

A lesson on organizational structure and the definitions of vendor types wraps up the section on starting a market.

Promote, promote, promote
The second section of the guide takes a look at promotion and advertising, and is helpful to both newly forming markets and existing ones. The tactics covered include developing a logo, signage, and printed promotional materials; working with the media; conducting promotional activities; placing ads in print; placing ads on TV and radio; using direct mail; and developing a website. The tips include the pros and cons of each activity, and the how-tos of tackling them.

Finally, the guide includes sample surveys, meeting announcements, and bylaws, and a listing of additional resources.

Want more info?
For a copy of the guide, Starting and Strengthening Farmers' Markets in Pennsylvania, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email info@ruralpa.org.

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Chairman's Message
Those of us who live in rural Pennsylvania wake up every day with something to celebrate. Living and working in a rural community are opportunities most of us take for granted. But on May 7th, we all will have the chance to stand up for rural Pennsylvania as we join with people across America in a nationwide celebration called Stand Up for Rural America.

What is Stand Up for Rural America? It is a national initiative to help rural communities gain the resources and policy support they need to prosper. As a result of this initiative, funds were secured through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build nonprofit programs to support rural community development. A network of roughly 750 rural community developers was organized and continues to educate local government leaders, lenders, and agencies that provide funding.

Stand Up for Rural America is helping to educate national policy makers by assisting the Congressional Rural Caucus in advocating for programs and policies that support grassroots organizations in efforts to invigorate rural communities.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly will join in this celebration through the adoption of resolutions. The legislative members of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania will be joined by our colleagues from urban and suburban areas in recognizing the special needs and opportunities of the Keystone State's rural communities. Pennsylvania's rural legislators represent the nation's largest rural population of 3.7 million people.

Please join us in this rural "reaching out" as we ask our friends and neighbors to appreciate the challenges and opportunities faced by Pennsylvania's rural communities. We have lots of success stories to share, plenty of worthwhile projects and programs to emulate, and plenty of issues and problems that need to be worked on and worked out. With the continued help of grassroots organizations, along with state and national rural advocates and leaders like those involved in Stand Up for America, we'll continue down the rural road to success.

I always enjoy traveling around Pennsylvania's rural countryside as I traverse the commonwealth on legislative business, especially during the summer months. I frequently stop at local farmers' markets to buy fresh produce and crafts directly from the people who raise it or make it. One of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's most popular publications, which is a tool for anyone interested in starting a farmers' market, has been revised and updated from its original 1994 edition. Starting and Strengthening Farmers' Markets in Pennsylvania was first published with the help of Penn State's Cooperative Extension staff from Lehigh County. Our feature article highlights the updated publication. We know it will continue to be a useful guide for our agricultural entrepreneurs who are interested in direct marketing.

I'm sure you will find the remaining articles about the Keystone Development Center and study of rural chamber of commerce directors interesting. And, don't miss the survey information for specialty crop producers being conducted by Penn State.

As we approach this year's growing season, we are mindful of the lack of moisture during the winter months and what it could mean for this year's crops and groundwater table. I encourage everyone to do their part in conserving water as we heed the warnings of drought conditions in Pennsylvania.
Hoping for rain,

Representative Sheila Miller

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Celebrate Rural America on May 7
Join the campaign to Stand Up For Rural America.

This national coalition initiative is designed to help rural community developers gain the resources and policy support their work deserves. May 7, 2002 has been designated as Stand Up for Rural America Day, so take time on that day to show support for rural America by joining the campaign.

The campaign is currently in its second phase. During Phase 1, the campaign met four goals: secured funding for the first nonprofit capacity building program - the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) - in USDA; helped stimulate a Rural Funders Affinity Group in the Council on Foundations; helped generate at least five significant investment initiatives for rural community development; and organized an umbrella network, involving at least 750 rural community developers, to continue educating funders, lenders and policymakers.

Phase 2 is focusing on strengthening the network of rural community developers, increasing opinion leaders' attention and policy makers' support for rural community developers; and assisting the Congressional Rural Caucus and others advocating for a national rural development policy - one recognizing grassroots developers as key engines for invigorating rural communities.

To join the campaign as a sponsor or network member, or to learn more about the campaign, visit the Stand Up for Rural America website at www.ruralamerica.org or call (202) 739-9282.

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2003 Request for Proposals Now Available
In February, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania kicked off its 2003 Grant Program by issuing its 2003 Request for Proposals. Qualified faculty from the Pennsylvania State University and State System of Higher Education universities are eligible to submit proposals for one-year research grants, with a maximum funding level of $50,000, or for the Mini Grants program, which run for nine months and have a maximum funding level of $10,000. For a copy of the RFP, contact the Center at (717) 787-9555 or visit our website at www.ruralpa.org.

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Keystone Development Center: The Coop Connector
Think of it as connecting the dots. The dots are the hundreds of cooperatives that operate or are looking to get started throughout the state and the connecting line is the Keystone Development Center (KDC), a technical assistance service provider that was officially incorporated in 1999. By acting as the connector between cooperatives, the KDC hopes to help them become stronger and continually responsive to the needs of members.

"We're looking to become a one-stop shop for any group that needs assistance in starting or growing a cooperative," says Cheryl Cook, executive director of the KDC, which is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state Department of Agriculture.

Since cooperative business activity is strong throughout the state and is likely to continue expanding over the next five years, the KDC is ready to offer its hand to make the work of cooperatives, especially those in rural areas, continually viable.

What's a cooperative?
"The majority of the general public is unaware of what a cooperative is and how it could benefit them," Cook says. "Traditionally, rural areas have been underserved in many areas, and cooperatives can offer a way to provide goods and services that may not necessarily be available."

For the record, a cooperative is a democratically controlled business or service organization where its members make policies and decisions. Profits are distributed based on the involvement or contribution of members and not on financial investment. Since the 1930s, cooperatives focused primarily on agriculture and the provision of electricity. Since then, they have grown to encompass a variety of other industries.

To learn more about Pennsylvania-based cooperatives and their needs, the KDC sponsored a study of Pennsylvania's 305 cooperatives, whose estimated annual gross revenues are $45 billion. The study, Keystone Development Center's Needs Analysis of Pennsylvania Cooperatives, revealed that cooperatives are spread throughout the state, with clusters near Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and include those that focus on agricultural marketing, housing, utilities, employee stock ownership, food production, nursery and preschool centers, and others that don't fit into general categories. Credit unions compose the largest group of cooperatives (40 percent) in the state.

While cooperatives vary significantly in size, membership, and activity, they share many common concerns. And this is where the KDC wants to play an active role. The two main goals of the KDC are to facilitate communication and cooperation between cooperatives and to develop projects and resources that benefit existing and up-and-coming cooperatives.

Beyond the traditional
The KDC also hopes to expand its cooperative activities assistance beyond those of traditional agriculture to include such activities as helping health care workers find ways to share transportation resources and helping homeowners and seniors meet their housing needs. Possible future avenues include assisting cooperatives that work with housing, transportation, consumer cooperatives, and those providing assistance to the elderly. That's not to say that agriculture will be left out of the mix: a current project of the KDC involves assisting grain farmers in determining the economic potential of an ethanol cooperative.

"Cooperatives offer a real way to address problems in rural Pennsylvania," Cook says. "They fulfill the need for goods or services that rural residents are not getting, or goods or services that the market can't or won't provide.

"By reaching out to cooperatives from varied fields and facilitating cooperation among them, the KDC can make a difference," Cook says.

For more information about the KDC, or a copy of its study, call (717) 243-2765 or go online at www.keystonedc.org.

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Chambers of Commerce Directors Remain Optimistic
Pennsylvania Chambers of Commerce directors continue to voice optimism about the state of the economy, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. Despite the recent economic decline, the majority of respondents thought growth and expansion would continue in rural areas.

As a follow-up to a survey conducted in 1999, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania surveyed about 50 percent of Pennsylvania's 61 rural chambers of commerce directors by phone in August 2001. The survey was designed to measure perceptions about economic conditions within the directors' communities. Although the results of the survey are not indicative of the overall state of economic affairs, they do give a good overview of the perceptions and attitudes of chamber of commerce directors. Used as a benchmark, the survey results provide a gauge of perceived economic performance in rural areas.

According to the survey, directors are optimistic about new business openings. About 55 percent said there was an increase in new business openings. Over the next 12 months, 94 percent of these directors believe that this trend will continue and 77 percent indicated that new businesses will primarily be small businesses. Also, 94 percent said that existing businesses have either expanded or maintained current levels.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents indicated that employment had increased over the last 12 months, as compared to 66 percent that said so during the 1999 survey. However, 65 percent said that employment will increase over the next 12 months. More than 50 percent of all respondents indicated they have experienced difficulties in recruiting workers over the past 12 months, a trend that 94 percent of those experiencing difficulties expected to continue during the next year.

Almost 65 percent of directors responded that agriculture was important to their local economy. Oddly, agriculture is one of the least represented portions of the economy in the chambers of commerce, with 26 percent of directors indicating that they have no representation from agriculture. Among those with agricultural representation, 90 percent said that this section composed less than 10 percent of their membership. In comparison, service comprises 42 percent of chamber membership, followed by retail with 32 percent and health care and manufacturing with 7 percent each. Of the chambers with agricultural representation, almost 74 percent said they are either not active or active at a low level.

The highest rated economic issues are: workforce training, business start-up financing, the cost of employee benefits, outmigration of youth, and the development and upgrade of public infrastructure. For each of these issues, more than 65 percent of the directors said that they are "very important."

In regard to quality of life in rural areas, commerce directors remain optimistic about their areas, although admitting shortfalls in certain sectors. Seventy-one percent indicated that public education is either good or excellent, which is close to the 70 percent that indicated so during the 1999 survey. Seventy-one percent also indicated that access to healthcare is good to excellent.

Transportation continues to be a problem for rural areas. More than 48 percent responded that the availability of transportation is either poor or very poor, and 42 percent indicated that it is either fair or good. The availability of advanced telecommunications services appeared better. The percentage that indicated that access is either poor or very poor went down from 29 percent in the 1999 survey to 13 percent in the 2001 survey.

Overall, the survey indicates that chamber of commerce directors, despite being less confident overall than in previous surveys, continue to foresee economic growth for rural Pennsylvania. For a copy of the results, contact the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555, or email info@ruralpa.org.

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Did you know . . .

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Update Census 2000: Summary File 2 Released
The newest Census 2000 numbers are the SF2 (Summary File 2) data, whose release began in December 2001, and which should be complete in March 2002. This file includes breakdowns of all the SF1 population and housing information for the 249 detailed race and Hispanic origin groups. So, for example, we will be able to find out how many Samoans in Pennsylvania are homeowners or how many Whites in
Harrisburg are 85 years old or older. As long as the population examined is not too small to breach confidentiality, the data can be obtained. In other words,

There are 249 race/ethnic groups partly because respondents were permitted for the first time in Census history to self-identify with more than one race. There were 6 possible race categories (White, Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, American Indian and Alaska Native, and some other race). The Asian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, and American Indian and Alaska Native groups are further broken into subcategories. Plus, there was the question of whether or not the respondent was of Hispanic or Latino origin.

The data will be downloadable from the Census Bureau's website in a lengthy series of zipped files. Rest assured that the masses of information will be compiled and made readable, and be available through the Center for Rural Pennsylvania in its role as an affiliate of the Census Bureau's State Data Center Program.
The next release we'll be looking for are the county and municipal profiles, including the sample data (socio-economic information) due out between March and May 2002.

For more Census information, visit the U.S. Census Bureau's website at www.census.gov or call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555.

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The Aging of Rural PA
Census 2000 data released in the summer of 2001 is evidence that rural Pennsylvania's population is growing older. The population aged 65 and older in the commonwealth's predominantly rural counties grew by more than 9 percent reaching over 420,000. The 85-year-old and older population grew by 43 percent to reach more than 51,000. Meanwhile, rural Pennsylvania's total population grew by just 6 percent.

The population in the state's urban counties is also aging but not as rapidly. The number of seniors aged 65 years and older grew by just 4 percent, only 1 percent faster than the total urban population growth.

In 2000, those aged 65 years and older made up 16 percent of the total rural population; those aged 85 years and older account for 2 percent. However, children under 18 still compose nearly 25 percent of the total population of rural counties.

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Farmers Urged to Complete Survey on Specialty Crops
For Pennsylvania's producers of mushrooms, honey, maple syrup, Christmas trees, and other specialty crops, the last few years have been challenging. Low prices and adverse weather conditions have made more apparent the inherent risks of growing these crops.

To assist Pennsylvania's farmers in finding better ways to manage risk, the USDA Risk Management Agency, the Pennsylvania Agricultural Statistics Service, and Penn State Cooperative Extension are currently conducting a study to assess the use of risk management tools and how they can be improved to better meet the needs of producers.

Called the "Risk Management Survey of Specialty Crop Producers," the survey began in January and will continue through April. Using both written surveys and phone interviews, the survey focuses on information such as crops grown, marketing methods used, sources of risk in agriculture, and methods to improve crop insurance.

The results of the survey, which will be kept in strict confidence, will be used by the USDA's Risk Management Agency to assess the needs of specialty crop growers and how those needs may be better addressed. Concurrent studies are also occurring in California, Florida, and New York.

For more information or to participate in the survey, contact Jayson Harper at (814) 863-8638 or at jharper@psu.edu. More information is also available at http://cropins.aer.psu.edu under the "Newsletter" section.

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Just the Facts: Where the Boys Are
Rural Pennsylvania, like most places in the United States, is predominantly female. According to the 2000 Census, Pennsylvania's urban areas are 52 percent female1, and its rural areas are 51 percent female.

So where are the boys in Pennsylvania? At the county level, only Centre, Fulton, and Juniata have more males than females. At the municipal level, boys are predominant in 15 percent of the state's municipalities. Of these masculine municipalities, nearly 83 percent are townships and 17 percent are boroughs. No Pennsylvania city has a male population greater than 51 percent, and all but one city is more than 51 percent female.

As a group, municipalities where guys are predominant had a population of 508,000 in 2000, representing a growth of 9 percent from the 1990 figure. These manly municipalities have a population density of 45 persons per square mile and a vast majority, or 88 percent, of the population in these municipalities is rural2. Eighty percent of the households own their homes as opposed to renting, and 20 percent of all householders live alone. Eighty-six percent of families are married couples and 44 percent of families have children. Children under 18 make up nearly 25 percent of the total population, and persons aged 65 and older account for 12 percent of the population. Of the population aged 25 and older, 30 percent have some college education. Employment is mainly in the services (29 percent), manufacturing (24 percent), and wholesale and retail trade (19 percent) sectors. Twenty-five percent of the workforce are in white-collar jobs and 20 percent are in professional or management positions. Nearly 30 percent of the workforce commuted out of the county.

The average income where the boys are is $33,000.

The more feminine municipalities, however, had a population of more than 8 million in 2000, which shrank slightly since 1990. The population density is more than 8,000 persons per square mile and only 13 percent of residents are in rural areas. Homeownership is at 66 percent with 31 percent of householders living alone. Seventy-two percent of families are married couples and, like the more masculine municipalities, 44 percent of families have children. The population of children under age 18 is 23 percent and those aged 65 years old and older is 17 percent. Thirty-seven percent of those aged 25 years old and older have some college education. Employment tended toward the services (35 percent), wholesale and retail trade (22 percent), and manufacturing (18 percent) sectors. Sixty percent of the workforce are in either white-collar or professional or management professions and less than 25 percent commute out of the county to work.
The average income was $35,500.

1 For this entire study, persons living in "Group Quarters" were excluded so that locations such as prisons, nursing homes, and college dorms would not skew the results.

2 Much of this data, specifically rural, education, occupation, poverty, and income came from the 1990 census since 2000 data was not yet available at the time of publication.

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