Assisting Farmers with Enterprise Diversification

2003 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. 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.

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 and disseminated to other farmers.


A set of complementary business planning exercises complementary to the NxLeveL curriculum has been developed for mini-business planning workshops. Three series of NxLeveL business planning workshops (each eight weeks long) were facilitated for 30 farms and 48 individuals. Nine follow-up workshops for NxLeveL “graduates” have been held, involving a total of 35 individuals, to review market development, effectiveness of business plans, and record keeping. Two additional follow-up workshops for “graduates” are planned for 2003. A fourth NxLeveL business planning series of workshops is planned for the 2002/2003 winter in northwestern Kansas. Six “Plan to Grow” workshops (each a one-day workshop) presented a mini-business planning training for 40 farms and 49 individuals.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

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

One farm, as a result of the business planning, decided to make their advertising budget more targeted and reduce their radio advertising budget from $15,000 to $3,000.

A group of 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 for 40 hours a week over the summer to help with the production of a 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.

Three farmers built retail sales facilities on their farms.

Three farmers secured value-added grants to develop their businesses.

One farmer won a producer award for producing the best quality pork for Niman Ranch.

One farm family diversified their business to include the first mushrooms marketed locally.