The future of the Massachusetts Cranberry Grower

The future of the Massachusetts Cranberry Grower, a marketing research study by the Slade's Ferry Bank Center for Business Research at UMass Dartmouth, welcomed by cranberry industry seeking technical assistance

March 19, 2003 

The future of the Massachusetts Cranberry Grower, a marketing research study by the Slade's Ferry Bank Center for Business Research at UMass Dartmouth, welcomed by cranberry industry seeking technical assistance 

The cranberry bogs of Massachusetts yield the state's largest and best-known agricultural crop, yet the latest study by a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth marketing research team shows that the majority of growers are over 50 years of age, and more than a quarter of them are over 64, a statistic that could have an impact on the industry's future as well as on future land use. But the team also found that the majority of growers are resilient and determined to preserve this industry through turbulent times. 

Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, chancellor professor of marketing in the Charlton College of Business, directed the study, released at a March 19 press conference. She surveyed growers to get insight into a number of areas, including the technical assistance needs of this changing industry, the demographics of the growers and their future plans. 

She said she didn't expect the demographic data to portray a population that is not renewing itself through younger farmers, and is also decidedly not interested in doing anything else. Most have no plans to sell next year, and 33 percent plan to grow more crops. Of those who do plan to sell, 52 percent of them expect that their land will be used to grow cranberries. Only 22 percent envisage selling to developers. 

"This research portrays the human side of cranberry growers in Southeastern Massachusetts with a clarity that we found quite moving. I find the growers to be mature, experienced, and resilient. °What impressed me most of all was that they really spoke with one voice—regardless of age, acres farmed, or years of experience. °They were all cranberry farmers first, " Barnes said. 

Jeffrey LaFleur, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers'Association (CCCGA), said: "The study highlights the continuing need for technical assistance in the areas of business development and value added products. The University clearly has a role in enhancing this sector of the economy. By continuing to support the programs offered through the UMass Dartmouth continuing education department and Southeast Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership, we will be able to deliver these services." 

Donna Jeffers, grower and President of the CCCGA, said: "Cranberry growers are working hard today to prepare for the future. Growers have become more innovative in farming practices and excelled in business practices, making great strides for the next generation. Cranberry growers have been and will continue to be environmental stewards of the land - searching for a way to maintain farm presence and open space." 

This is the fourth marketing research study Barnes and her students have conducted for the cranberry industry through the Slade's Ferry Bank Center for Business Research at UMD. Other studies have focused on new markets for cranberries. 

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said: "This research highlights once again how UMass adds value to our region and how we create partnerships and collaboration. I think it's work that represents the best efforts of a public regional research university."


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