Assisting Farmers with Enterprise Diversification

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2000: $54,550.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Federal Funds: $50,000.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $28,750.00
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Jerry Jost
Kansas Rural Center

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, millet, oats, peanuts, potatoes, rye, soybeans, spelt, sugarbeets, sugarcane, sunflower, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: apples, apricots, berries (other), cherries, melons, peaches, pears, plums
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: tobacco, herbs, native plants, ornamentals
  • Animals: bees, bovine, poultry, goats, rabbits, sheep, swine
  • Animal Products: dairy
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Animal Production: free-range, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, decision support system, display, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, participatory research, study circle
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, cooperatives, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: soil analysis
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, analysis of personal/family life, community services, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures


    Business planning helps farm families evaluate and implement new farm enterprises. These planning steps include setting goals, evaluating enterprise options, developing a marketing plan, constructing a production plan, assessing profitability, assessing financial feasibility, making decisions, and preparing for success. A disciplined process of planning stimulates synergy and accountability among farmers. In addition, farmers receive technical assistance by means of individual consultation, market research, and financial consultation using the FINPACK analysis.


    Low commodity prices challenge farmers to consider new enterprises that add value to farm products to improve profits. However, to develop successful enterprises, farmers need training in business and market planning that fits with their whole-farm plans. Such training and planning assistance will improve the rate of successful adoption of new on-farm enterprises.

    Farmer-to-farmer planning groups provide a valuable learning tool for producers as they make changes in management and marketing. This project focused on local farmer groups to reinforce new learning.

    Project objectives:

    1. Five farmers developed the skills and understanding to effectively mentor other farmers in the selection, planning, and implementation of new on-farm enterprises.
    2. A business planning process to select profitable and sustainable farm-based enterprises enabled 30 farm families to improve the environment and their quality of life.
    3. A business planning process to select profitable and sustainable farm-based enterprises will enable one farmer cooperative to diversify enterprises on members’ farms to improve the environment and their quality of life.
    4. An enterprise financial database will be collected and enterprise profiles will be developed that will be disseminated to other farmers.

    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.