Enhancing Enterprise Diversification Assessment for Native American Farmers to Enhance Economic Sustainability

Final report for WPDP19-14

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $67,650.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G138-20-W7504
Grant Recipients: Utah State University; University of Arizona
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
Ruby Ward
Utah State University
Trent Teegerstrom
University of Arizona
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Project Information


It is difficult in many circumstances for farmers and ranchers to have economically viable operations.  This is even truer in Indian Country where there are more restrictions and regulations (Ward, Teegerstrom and Hiller, 2013; Emm and Singletary, 2009).  Native American and Alaskan Natives have the highest poverty rate (27%) of any race or ethnicity (Macartney, Bishaw and Fontenot, 2013).

In 2014 a needs assessment, part of a WSARE project, of Federally Recognized Tribal Extension (FRTEP) agents and Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) members rated financial management, business management and evaluating new ideas for value-added enterprises very high.  At that time a current WSARE project created Financial Management and Business Management curriculum that continues to be used in Indian Country.  However, the enterprise assessment and tools to analyze new ideas was beyond the scope of the project, but will be addressed in this new project. 

Professional development projects are effective for Native American producers because they often do not have a local resource like Small Business Development Centers and others.  Farmers and ranchers in Indian Country have more difficulty with financing and regulations and less access to trained agriculture professionals to help them. So providing additional training to those that are already working in Indian Country is an effective method of improving Native American farmers and ranchers access to these services.

This project will provide training on enterprise assessment to Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) agents, the Intertribal Agriculture Council Technical Assistance Specialists (IAC-TAS) and non-profit organizations working in Indian Country.  These groups are located on reservations and work with members of various Native American Tribes. With more advanced training in enterprise analysis they can serve as good source to work one-on-one with Tribal members assessing new ideas for enhanced economic viability.   

Project Objectives:

There are 4 objectives for this project.  (1) Adapt and develop curriculum and tools that are appropriate and effective for Native American producers to increase capacity to analyze agriculture enterprises in year 1.  (2) Provide training for FRTEP agents (20 participants) and IAC-TAS (10 participants) at their meetings in years 1 and 2, and one on-line training in year 2 (20 participants).  (3) Do needs assessment with participants in year 1 and get feedback in years 1 and 2 on materials, and (4) Have participants work with Native American farmers/ranchers one-on-one to conduct enterprise analysis and provide feedback.  Below is a list of tasks to be completed each year.  The program director and other members of the project team will be responsible for keeping the program on its timetable.

 Year 1 tasks:

  • Survey existing materials and construct curriculum outline
  • Conduct needs assessment
  • Interview individual farmers and ranchers as needed to create case studies
  • Create 2 enterprise budgets and case studies
  • Create booklets with examples from case studies
  • Distribute booklets to participants
  • Develop all program evaluations
  • Schedule training with FRTEP and IAC
  • Deliver training to FRTEP agents and IAC-TAS
  • Gather evaluations during training
  • Get feedback 3-6 months after training
  • Complete reports

Year 2 tasks:

  • Schedule IAC, FRTEP and online training
  • Do follow-up evaluation of IAC-TAS and FRTEP
  • Use feedback to modify case studies and booklets
  • Deliver FRTEP, IAC, and online training
  • Gather evaluations during training
  • Post materials on USU Extension website
  • Complete reports

Year 3 tasks:

  • Continue analyzing evaluation results
  • Do final evaluation survey including information on how many Native American farmers or ranchers they worked with
  • Finalize evaluation
  • Complete final reports


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Vicki Hebb - Producer


Educational approach:

This project will provide in-depth training and support for agriculture professionals that are located on reservations and have experience working with Native American producers but lack the expertise in enterprise analysis.  The FRTEP program has extension agents located on several reservations that conduct educational programming and work with individual tribal members.   However, they like other extension agents have various backgrounds and expertise but few have farm business management backgrounds. The Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) is the premier organization for agricultural policies and programs in Indian County. The IAC-TAS work on reservations with individuals to help them navigate the regulations and requirements for accessing USDA programs.  These are all examples of individuals that would be able to provide educational programs and work locally with producers. 


This project will create culturally relevant educational materials and tools for Native Americans producers.  This project will work with professional development conferences and meetings for FRTEP agents and IAC-TAS.  We will also do one online training session for others not covered by either the FRTEP or IAC-TAS trainings.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Building Business Management Capacity for Native American Agricultural Businesses

Adapt and develop curriculum and tools that are appropriate and effective for Native American producers to increase capacity to analyze agriculture enterprises .


A booklet and case study on starting a livestock operation on a reservation was created.  It uses simple explanations of each topic and provides an example.  It also allows the user to assess their current level of preparedness, record their plan, and also determine their next steps.  This allows them to have a way of getting started and knowing what their next steps need to be.  These booklets can be used independently or with a FRTEP agent.

Additional booklet on starting a food business and also a pre-business checklist to assess someone's readiness to start a business including financial, health and family issues.

Outcomes and impacts:

The booklet is created and available for use.  Booklets on "Questions to Ask When Starting a Livestock Operation", "Questions to ask when starting a food business" and Questions to ask before starting a business on a reservation.  Additionally, over 100 people learned about the materials and booklets were posted online and some were distributed.

Provide training on Business Management Capacity for Native American Agricultural Businesses

Provide training for FRTEP agents and IAC-technical assistant specialists


This objective is to provide training for Federally recognized tribal Extension agents as well as Intertribal Agriculture Council - Technical Assistant Specialists on the materials and methods available for developing business plans and analyzing ideas.

Outcomes and impacts:

Information has been shared with both FRTEP agents and IAC-TAS.  This was done at Southwest Indian Agriculture Association meetings, with TAS at IAC and also at the Risk Management Extension Meetings.  Some of the FRTEP agents indicated they were using the materials and would like to collaborate to expand the materials and topics of the booklets.  No concrete plans are in place, but the ideas are being looked at.

needs assessment of Business Management Capacity for Native American Agricultural Businesses

needs assessment with FRTEP agents and other participants


The needs assessment of what topics, examples and other information allows a better educational product to be produced.  Information is also gathered on how to package the information to be valuable and relevant for tribal members.

Outcomes and impacts:

Information was gathered on what types of questions are most frequently asked by tribal members as well as what topics and examples would be useful.  Information was also gathered on how they would use materials and would like it packaged.  It was used in creation of the materials.  Additionally, reviews were also done of hte materials.

Business Management Capacity for Native American Agricultural Businesses

Participants work with Native American farmers/ranchers one-on-one to conduct enterprise analysis and provide feedback


The FRTEP agents and IAC- Technical Assistant Specialists and others working with tribal members will provide feedback on how they are using the materials and information developed.  The anecdotal feedback was very positive, but we had a hard time gathering more specific feedback.

Outcomes and impacts:

This will be assessed at the end of the project.  Casual feedback has been positive.  Overall, over 100 participants were made aware of the materials, over 80% indicated they were going to use the materials.  As a percent of those that responded this was a higher rate.  Many indicated they were making plans.  However, we did not have a good evaluation process in place to do post follow-up to gather information on how it was used in their programming specifically.

Educational & Outreach Activities

3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
3 Webinars / talks / presentations
3 Other educational activities: Needs assessment of FRTEP agents

Participation Summary:

25 Extension
5 Nonprofit
50 Others

Learning Outcomes

75 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
15 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

3 Grants received that built upon this project
1 New working collaboration
Project outcomes:

The project provided new materials and programming that helped with early business plans for agricultural producers that was targeted for Native American producers.  During the project 3 guidebooks were created that were available to use and for programming.  The materials were edited to be culturally appropriate and relevant.  Their use was also used in other projects by other groups.  The products were well received by educators and producers.  Overall, over 100 participants were reached.  Evaluation systems could not separate producers from educators and others. 

Some anecdotal evaluation from educators and tribal leaders indicated that the materials were valuable and filled an educational gap.  They would allow producers to develop and analyze ideas for additional business ideas.

45 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
50 Farmers reached through participant's programs

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.