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Sitting down with... Barb Kinnan

Darren Olsen, Editor Published on 31 December 2009

An interview with Barb Kinnan, Executive Director, Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association

Q. How did the Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association (NAMA) get started?

KINNAN: The association was started in 1986 by several independent alfalfa producers in the state. They were looking for ways to reach buyers they wouldn’t be able to on their own.

They pooled some money together and began attending events, such as World Dairy Expo, and have been a combined marketing organization ever since.

Q. How does your organization finance its operations?

KINNAN: As a non-profit organization, we have two main avenues of income we rely on. First, all members of the association pay yearly dues. This allows them to participate in various events and include their products in our marketing efforts.

We also host the Mid-America Alfalfa Expo every year in February. During this event we hold our annual fund-raising auction, which has become very popular with everyone who attends. Between these two efforts, we are able to provide the marketing services to our members.

Q. What services does your organization provide to its members?

KINNAN: Most of the members of our organization are great at producing alfalfa. Where we try to help out is offering marketing services for their hay. Most people who raise alfalfa spend their time producing the highest-quality products they can. Unfortunately, that leaves them with very little time to go out and establish markets for their hay.

Our organization is different from most others in that our primary focus it to facilitate connecting alfalfa buyers with the many different growers in our state. We also see ourselves as promoters of alfalfa and agriculture in general coming from Nebraska.

In addition to promotion, we also try to educate both our members and the public in general about growing alfalfa and the benefits it has to other industries and the environment. We also are able to help in other areas, such as providing support for trucking needs, forage testing, storage and other needs of both buyers and sellers.

Q. What benefits has NAMA received from its continued member support?

KINNAN: The members of NAMA bring not only a high-quality product to promote, but continue to provide a wealth of knowledge and experience that couldn’t be gained otherwise.

Even though each member is trying to get their hay marketed, we have found working together creates a resource that is more attractive to potential clients than would be otherwise.

It is this cooperation which gives all of our members an increased opportunity to promote and sell their alfalfa products. While some people might think it would be detrimental to their overall marketing plan, we have found the more we collectively have to offer, the more business we are able to generate overall for everyone.

Q. Where do you see NAMA headed in the future?

KINNAN: We have been a statewide organization since we began back in 1986. We have had many discussions recently about expanding our base beyond the Nebraska state lines and becoming a regional organization, but we are still trying to make a final decision.

We realize that alfalfa is not the easiest crop to produce, so the more strength we can gain by working together, the better it can become for everyone involved in the process.

We are happy with what we have been able to do over the past several years and would like to increase our ability to help the alfalfa industry in our area. Continuing to grow and help our members grow, as well, is the best way we can move ahead in the future.  FG

For more information about the Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association, please contact Barb Kinnan.