Assisting Farmers with Enterprise Diversification

2002 Annual Report for LNC00-170

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

Assisting Farmers with Enterprise Diversification


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 a decision, and preparing for success. New synergy and accountability among farmers are created through a series of group planning workshops. In addition, farmers receive technical assistance by means of individual consultation, market research, and financial consultation using the FINPACK analysis.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1. Five farmers will develop 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 will enable 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 member 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.


A set of complementary business planning exercises complementary to the NxLeveL curriculum has been developed for mini-business planning workshops.

Two series of NxLeveL business planning workshops (each eight weeks long) were facilitated for 16 farms and 28 individuals. Three follow-up workshops for NxLeveL graduates have been held involving a total of 23 individuals to review market development, effectiveness of business plans and record keeping. Two additional follow-up workshops for graduates are planned for 2002. A third NxLeveL business planning series of workshops is planned for January through March, 2002.

Three Plan to Grow workshops (each a one-day workshop) presented a mini-business planning training for 19 farms and 23 farmers. Two Plan to Grow workshops are planned for January, 2002.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

One farm following the business planning workshops did an extensive remodeling of their store including educational displays.

One farm as a result of the business planning decided to reduce their radio advertising budget from $15,000 to $3,000 to better target their advertising budget.

A group of the farmers tested their market plans and skills by opening up a new farmers? market in their region.

One farmer expanded her bread mix business and started a bread baking business.

One farmer for the first time began direct marketing grass-fed beef.

One elderly farm couple started their first subscription service.

One farmer expanded her pastured poultry business to a monthly sales target of 1,000 birds.

One farmer hired a local youth 40 hours a week over the summer to help with the production of her pastured poultry business. Her economic analysis revealed this enterprise ranked third on their farm in terms of sales.

One farmer incubating his freezer-beef business met his targeted sales of 12 steers in his second year of the enterprise.

Quotes from farmers who participated in the projects business planning workshops:

?This course forced me to address all aspects of my business ? I found it very useful.?

?This made me analyze my advertising budget and my clients ? the interaction with others brought out new ideas.?

?We really learned a lot ? the speakers were outstanding ? great job!?

?I would recommend this to anyone interested in farming or an ag business.?

?The information presented was pertinent, useful and valuable ? Information and networking of this type is rare for smaller, individual enterprises. Therefore, I do feel these meetings filled a valuable need for those involved.?

?I felt the workshops were very well presented ? I just wish I had attended a workshop such as this when we first started. I felt it was time well spent.?

?The workshops were a valuable opportunity to set aside time to begin to evaluate and plan new farm enterprises and marketing strategies.?

?We learned some new strategies we plan to use.?

?A good job of presenting the material ? gave some good pointers ? gave background for doing a better job of marketing our products.?