DOAG: 2013 HNE Conference Feb 27-28: Making “Cents” in Today’s Marketplace

This article appeared in the February 5, 2013 edition of the Ag Report

2013 HNE Conference Feb 27-28:  Making “Cents” in Today’s Marketplace

Marketing Unit, Connecticut Department of Agriculture


        The fourth biennial Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference and Trade Show, Making “Cents” in Today’s Marketplace, is fast approaching.  It will be held February 27-28, 2013, at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  Early registration ends February 7, 2013.


One of the largest agricultural marketing conferences in New England, Making “Cents” in Today’s Marketplace will include 26 breakout sessions based on the conference theme.  Five focused tracks (agritourism; marketing and media; financing; food hubs, safety, and sustainability; and value-added) feature farmers and other industry professionals from around New England, who will provide practical, easy-to apply-techniques. 


The 2011 conference was attended by more than 800 agricultural people, who gave it high praise.  Ninety percent of respondents indicated on the conference evaluation that they felt the event was very good or excellent.  Past participants have said it is one of best places to network and connect with peers.  Other comments have included:

“Excellent seminars and trade show. Looking forward to the next one!”

“I am leaving this conference energized to implement all I have learned. I am positive that my farm enterprise will grow and prosper. Thank you.”


The 2013 conference will kick off with a general session address by Roberta MacDonald, senior vice president of marketing for Cabot Creamery Cooperative of Vermont.  Ms. MacDonald has more than 30 years of marketing experience, including 20 at Cabot.  While her position has allowed her to work with extensive budgets, she will share with attendees many low- and no-cost marketing techniques. 


A special session will include a panel of the six New England state’s Department of Agriculture leaders, who will discuss the top issues for New England agriculture, including food safety, the 2013 Farm Bill, right to farm ordinances, new farmer issues, and buying local, followed by a Q+A session.  The panel is also expected to address:

The biggest opportunities and threats facing New England agriculture;

Potential and current regional efforts between agencies;

The top characteristics of a viable and sustainable New England farm operation; and

The most important marketing trends and opportunities.


The New England Farmers’ Market Managers Workshop will again take place at the conference this year, and will be held from 12:30-5:00 p.m. on February 27.  Market managers from around New England will participate in sessions that will address common issues and topics all market mangers face, such as:

How to make a market shop-worthy;

Ways to keep a market fresh so vendors and customers continually return; and

Remembering to consider the details that help establish a successful market.

The workshop will end with a state and regional farmers’ market review, allowing attendees to network and discuss broader efforts that can add value to a market. 


On the second day, Bob Burke, co-founder of the Natural Products Consulting Group, will speak during the morning general session.  Mr. Burke, former vice president for marketing, sales, and corporate development for Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, will discuss current retail trends and resulting consumer expectations.  Understanding these trends and how consumers respond can help attendees best relate to their customers. 


The educational conference will again be complemented by an industry trade show.  Nearly 100 vendors will exhibit and provide information on the latest agricultural products and services.  There will be ample opportunity to visit the trade show between conference sessions.  A reception featuring New England food, oysters, beer, and wine will be held from 5:00 -7:00 p.m. in the trade show on the first day. 


Early registration is open until February 7, 2013.  After February 7, the registration fee increases from $90 to $125 for the first person from each business, and from $75 to $110 for each additional person from the same business.  One-day registration is also available for $50 by February 7 ($85 for late or walk-in registrations).


Registration information, a complete conference schedule, and session details are available online at or   Overnight rooms are available from the Sturbridge Host Hotel at the group rate (starting at $96 plus applicable taxes) and must be booked by February 14, 2013. 


Harvest New England Association is a cooperative marketing program created by New England’s six state Departments of Agriculture in 1992.  It has sponsored this regional conference since 2007.  For more information about the Harvest New England conference, organization, or logo, please contact Mrs. Jaime Smith, or 860-713-2559.


We look forward to seeing you in Sturbridge!