- Education and Training: decision support system, farmer to farmer, networking, technical assistance, workshop
- Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, agritourism, budgets/cost and returns, business planning, financial management, labor/employment, marketing management, risk management, whole farm planning
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, quality of life
Although economic viability is only one of the three pillars of farm sustainability, without it a farm is not able to continue to carry out its role of natural resource stewardship and supporting quality of life goals. According to the USDA-ERS, 85 percent of new farm businesses fail within their first five years of production. While there are many training opportunities for farmers to learn about sustainable production practices, there is less support for farmers in the business management skills area, which is absolutely necessary if a farm is to be economically viable for the long term.
The "Take Your Farm to the Next Level" training course will address the business and financial management of beginning farms. The goal is for participating farms to develop detailed business and financial plans, recordkeeping systems, and improve their labor management and marketing. Increased attention on the business aspects of the operation will hopefully lead to more profitable farms and sustainable farms that continue to operate.
This project will result in a cohort of farmers who have developed plans to take their farming operations to the next level, while meeting financial and quality of life goals. Participants will receive training and support on whole-farm planning, business plan development, access to capital, financial management, record keeping, and market development through a six-month series.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Develop a six-part curriculum for "Take Your Farm to the Next Level" training series.
- Conduct "Take Your Farm to the Next Level" training series.
- Produce a six-part series of online course for "Take Your Farm to the Next Level" and publish on NCAT/ATTRA website.
- Provide on-on-one technical assistance to participants and create a lasting network of beginning sustainable farmers who can continue to support each other beyond the timeline of the project.
- Conduct evaluation of the "Take Your Farm to the Next Level" training program and the impacts made.