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The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers: Keeping the Dream of Farming Alive

As older farmers retire, fewer young farmers are stepping in to take their place. The number of beginning farmers dropped 20 percent in the last five-year census period, and the average US farmer now tops 58 years of age. more

CIAS Mini-Grants Support Graduate Student Research in Sustainable Agriculture

CIAS supports innovative graduate student research addressing the challenges faced by small- and medium-sized farms and food businesses. Awarded annually, our competitive mini-grants aid students as they initiate their research in sustainable agriculture and food systems. more


Announcing the 2019 Market Farm Madness Champion!

Hoophouse is your 2019 Market Farm Madness champion! They withstood high winds, late snow storms and controversy over cost share payments to win the tournament. more

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Hard Cider in the North Central Region: Industry Survey Findings

Posted July 2017

A growing hard apple cider industry in the U.S. has the potential to contribute to local, sustainable food systems. In order to better understand this resurgent industry, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems surveyed hard apple cider businesses across 12 states in the North Central Region. Questions focused on basic business profile, production, sales, sourcing of apples, marketing approaches, distribution strategies, constraints and opportunities in the industry, and cider makers’ preferences for future research and outreach.

The majority of the cideries that responded were small startup companies. They reported rapid growth over the last three years, and projected continued growth for the coming three years. These cideries procured over 90 percent of their apples either locally or regionally, and they were willing to pay significantly more per bushel for cider-specific apple varieties compared with varieties grown for eating fresh. They were not particularly concerned with the cosmetic appearance of the fruit.

Survey respondents employed a broad range of packaging and marketing strategies. Though there was no clear consensus about how cider should be marketed, most cideries aimed to differentiate themselves from larger companies that produce primarily sweet ciders.

The greatest challenges and industry constraints identified through the survey revolved around financing, marketing and distribution. In particular, cider makers were interested in information about perceptions of cider among retailers, distributors, chefs and bar owners; consumer willingness to pay for cider; and successful business practices in the cider industry. On the whole, cider makers highly ranked the need for research or new information on several topics, suggesting that these companies could benefit from increased engagement from relevant research and educational institutions.

Read the full report (PDF)