Meet Julia Hofmeister, Member Relations Associate at Mercaris
Julia joined Mercaris just before the holidays as our new Member Relations Associate. She brings to Mercaris a background in sustainable agriculture, both working for and starting up a few ag-related companies. She will be working with Mercaris data subscribers to answer their questions, provide information, and assist them in finding new ways of understanding organic and non-GMO grain markets.
You can read more about Julia on the Mercaris website, or, read on for her take on the opportunities and challenges ahead for 2016.
Can you share more about what you will be doing at Mercaris? What do you hope to accomplish?
My goal at Mercaris is to help our customers get the most value out of the solutions we provide. I'm here to help and gather feedback, so we can continue to design better and more useful tools as a team. Personally, I love working with growers as I come from an agricultural background, but enjoy working with all the different stakeholders throughout the supply chain. I hope that we can continue to support the growth of better agriculture and as a result, a healthier way of life for people and planet.
I think there are huge opportunities for existing organic farmers to expand their acreage (for transitioning farmers too!). The huge influx of organic imports that we experienced in the U.S. last year is a strong indicator of demand and growth in the sector. Also, new programs to support new or transitioning farmers continue to be encouraging for the sector, although transitioning continues to be a challenge for many farmers.
What do you foresee as the big opportunities, challenges, or trends for organic or non-GMO related businesses?
What is something people might find interesting about you? Any hidden talents?
Once upon a time, my family decided to try our hand in rotational grazing by adding chickens and chicken tractors to the farm. We didn't really know what we were doing, and the broilers got way too big for the equipment at the processing facility. So we had to process all of them by hand on the farm, ourselves. It was quite the learning experience, and brought a whole new meaning to "know your food" for our family.
And, a second example: As an undergraduate studying organic agriculture, I was a part of a few research projects that made me aware of a unique opportunity in my community to help alleviate food insecurity and help farmers who were looking to diversify into food crops from tobacco (traditionally the staple of Kentucky family farms). So I started a community supported agriculture program that was priced on a sliding scale, so everyone who wanted to participate could have access to local, healthy food at an affordable price. So I guess my hidden talent would be: getting people to eat their vegetables!