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OFA offers support for members to sell direct

April 1, 2020  By Greenhouse Canada

Recognizing the challenges in selling through retail during COVID-19, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has set up an online guide for direct sales to consumers.

Regardless of whether the business is considered an essential workplace, all businesses can continue to sell goods and services, so long as they do so through teleworking, online, telephone, and delivery, writes the OFA. Some options include direct farm gate sales, online sales for pick-up or delivery, partnering with local box/food delivery services or restaurants. If donating to a local food bank, growers may be eligible for an income tax credit.

When setting up a physical space, general health and safety protocols must be abided by. OFA suggests the following:

  • Set up your operation so that people can maneuver the space using social distancing.
  • Offer your products pre-packaged to reduce contact.
  • Consider offering a space for handwashing or hand-sanitization.
  • Provide self-serve freezers or other methods to reduce your need to be present, and sanitize all areas between customers.
  • Do not allow customers to sample food or use reusable containers.
  • Do not provide communal areas or seating to stay on site.
  • Offer contactless payment through Apple Pay or other tap/touchless payment methods, e-Transfer, pre-purchasing online. If you do accept cash, ensure it is properly sanitized.

Many consumers want to support farmers during these difficult times, says the OFA. Growers are encouraged to promote the health benefits of their products and to tell their story through different channels, including social media.

OFA is offering their members a 30-day free trial of the online platform Local Line, which helps farmers sell directly to consumers. It includes a free website builder, free account set-up, and free Quickbooks integration.

Peggy Brekveld, Vice President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, highlighted some key findings from a recent’ survey:

  • 78% expect lost revenue as a result of value chain disruptions
  • 73% are anxious about their inability to conduct business as usual
  • 69% expect reduced cash flow

The top three concerns on how COVID-19 will impact their farm businesses were financial impact, decrease in consumer spending and a potential global recession.

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