- Education and Training: general education and training
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, agricultural finance
Southern SAWG will equip at least 80 agricultural professionals with knowledge, techniques and tools that will allow them to assist small and mid-scale producers of horticultural crops with tracking key farm data, analyzing the data, and making business decisions that help them attain their goals and lead to increased farm profitability. With assistance from agricultural economists Tim Woods (U.KY.) and Kim Morgan (Virginia Tech), we will design and produce a series of online educational materials that includes: 1. Understanding important drivers to farm profitability and what data needs to be tracked. 2. How farmers can analyze the data to determine impacts of decisions. 3. Methods and tools farmers can use to collect and store key pieces of data. 4. How farmers can use information obtained through this method to inform future planning and estimate outcomes. We will deliver training to assistance providers through a half-day course at the 2015 Southern SAWG conference, and three one-hour webinars. The course and webinars will introduce concepts and tools, and show how participants can pursue independent learning online. Farmers/trainers Ellen Polishuk and Jim Munsch will lead the course and contribute to the webinars. All learning activities will be promoted through SSAWG channels and through targeted outreach to Coop Extension, NRCS, and Farm Credit in each southern state. We will also promote the online learning materials at three trade shows that are highly attended by our target audience. Expected behavior changes will be measured by pre- and post-tests based on our evaluation logic model.
Project objectives from proposal:
Our overall project goal is to equip at least 80 agricultural professionals with knowledge, techniques and tools that will allow them to assist producers of horticultural crops with tracking key farm data (including revenue and expenses), analyzing the data, and making business decisions that help them attain their goals and lead to increased farm profitability. This project will target agricultural professionals who provide assistance to small and mid-scale producers of horticultural crops who are striving to become more sustainable. The target audience includes: • Extension agents with horticulture assignments • Extension small farm specialists • Extension and university personnel assisting producers with farm financial management • NGO personnel working directly with small and mid-scale horticultural producers • Beginning farm programs personnel • Lenders who advise small and mid-scale horticultural producers Objectives 1. At least 80 agricultural professionals who work with small and mid-scale producers of horticultural crops will gain a greater understanding of the key activities needed for farm owners and managers to make well-informed business decisions that can help them attain their goals and increase their farm profitability. These activities will include understanding what farm data to track, how to collect and store the data, how to analyze the data, and how to make business decisions based on key drivers of farm profitability. 2. At least 75 agricultural professionals who participate in this project will gain confidence in their ability to discuss recordkeeping techniques and business decision-making with producers who they assist, and will be able to recommend specific farmer-friendly tools and other resources that the producers can use to track important farm financial data, analyze the data, and make business decisions that lead to increased farm profitability. 3. At least 60 agricultural professionals who participate in this project will incorporate more effective assistance on recordkeeping and business decision-making into their farmer assistance. Examples of behavior change expected: • Project participants incorporate information about recordkeeping and business decision-making into production training and other education for small and mid-scale horticulture producers, with a focus on increasing farm profitability. • Project participants include more in-depth education about recordkeeping and business decision-making that leads to increased farm profitability when assisting small and mid-scale horticulture producers with loan applications, USDA program applications, or new enterprise decisions. • Project participants include education on recordkeeping and business decision-making that leads to increased farm profitability when training beginning farmers who are interested in horticultural enterprises. Our intent is to equip more assistance providers, who are often the primary information contacts for farmers, to be able to provide assistance in a whole systems way by discussing recordkeeping and business decision-making within the context of production and marketing, instead of as a separate, and often neglected, topic.