5 last-minute gifts for farm clients

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Editor's note: This Practice Builder is from Heidi Nelson, of Harvest PR & Marketing in Minneapolis, Minn. Harvest PR serves clients in the agriculture, food, health, consumer products and travel industries.

The gift-giving season is an excellent time to treat the farmers in your life to something special, while also showing support for agriculture at the cash register. Harvest PR & Marketing has compiled a list of five such farm-friendly gift ideas that keep on giving all year long.

"We wanted to create a list of suggestions that inspires our friends in agriculture to support their own this holiday season," says Heidi Nelson, principal of Harvest PR & Marketing.

  • Tools for "agvocacy." Smartphones, such as the Blackberry, iPhone and Droid, not only help farmers conduct business from the tractor, they serve as an amplifier for agriculture as farmers learn to connect with consumers, using social media. According to a recent study from Paulsen Marketing, agvocacy is one of the key "tech triggers" causing farmers to upgrade communication technologies. With shiny new smartphones in hand, farmers can look to the AgChat Foundation to learn how to effectively engage on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media platforms to tell their story. Visit www.agchat.org.
  • Market updates via text. With a subscription to CommodityUPDATE, farmers receive timely market data on their cell phones via SMS text message. Farmers love the service, because it gives them an information edge that could help them stay on the right side of market volatility. Agri-marketers love it because they can gift the service to top customers; 88 percent of farmers surveyed preferred CommodityUPDATE over a cap or jacket. Farmers choose their preferred update(s) and the delivery frequency: up to nine times a day. Enjoy a free trial, or order a one-year subscription for $99.95. Volume discounts available. Visit www.commodityupdate.com.
  • Workhorse garments. Despite advancements in artificial fibers, cotton still is king when it comes to clothing our nation's farmers and outdoor workers. Cotton tees and blue jeans remain the unofficial uniform of rural America, and for good reason. They're durable, comfortable and breathable. When those blue jeans finally do wear out, Cotton Incorporated runs a denim drive, collecting and converting old jeans into UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber Insulation, which is then donated to communities in need. To learn more, visit www.cottonfrombluetogreen.org.
  • Healthy gift baskets. Specialty crops like U.S.-grown pears, apples and hazelnuts play a starring role in holiday gift baskets, and are a healthier alternative to the season's sugar-laced sweets. Fruits and nuts provide essential nutrients, fiber and energy that can help farmers power through a long workday. Order an impeccable basket from Harry & David, or get on their mailing list for monthly deliveries. On a budget? Assemble your own basket with tips from USA Pears at www.usapears.org. Then, follow the U.S. Apple Association's suggestions for hosting a tasting party at www.usappleblog.org. No tasting party is complete without cheese. Consult Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's interactive cheese pairing guide at www.cheesecupid.com.
  • Livestock donation. Charitable organizations like Heifer International and World Vision believe that giving families a source of food, rather than short-term relief, is a more sustainable and effective way to lift them out of poverty and hunger: "A cow, not a cup," says Heifer, which empowers millions of families to reach self-reliance through gifts of livestock, seeds and trees, and extensive training, which provide a multiplying source of food and income. Why limit donations to once a year? Spread your giving throughout the year. Both organizations offer monthly giving programs. For more information, visit www.heifer.org and www.worldvision.org.

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