A great way to keep your name in front of potential customers: Get involved with a state, regional or national hay marketing group, says Nebraska alfalfa grower John Wood. He’s been a member of the Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association (N.A.M.A.) since it started 25 years ago.

Wood, who puts up 3 x 4 x 8’ alfalfa bales on 400 acres near Bellwood, says membership allows him and other growers to combine marketing resources. For example, some of his annual dues go toward publication of a widely distributed membership directory. Complementing the print directory is an up-to-date inventory page on the N.A.M.A. Web site.

“It’s the best way I’ve found for getting your name and information about your production out in front of customers on a regular basis,” he says. “It definitely gives me a leg up compared to what I could afford to do on my own.”

As a part of N.A.M.A. delegations to trade shows, Wood also has had opportunities to promote his product at World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI, and the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition in Moultrie, GA.

“There are a lot of hay buyers at these kinds of shows. You can sell hay over the phone or through email, but it’s hard to beat the face-to-face contact you have when you’re at one of these shows.”

Association dues are based on individual members’ hay acreage. “The basic membership starts out at around $175/year and goes up from there. Most growers consider that a pretty reasonable fee when you calculate it out on a per-ton basis. Whenever we’ve had to raise the fee, we haven’t really had any complaints,” he says.

Membership also helps Wood service his existing customer base. “If I have an order from a customer who needs a certain amount or quality of hay and I don’t have enough to cover their needs, I can call other growers in the association and see what they might have available. We help each other.”

To contact Wood, call 402-367-2039 or email cruciblefarms@speednet.com.