Enhancing Farm Viability and Profitability through Improved Risk Management

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2014: $44,444.00
Funds awarded in 2015: $45,080.00
Funds awarded in 2016: $44,231.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2017
Grant Recipient: West Virginia University
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
State Coordinator:
Dr. Doolarie Singh-Knights, Ph.D.
West Virginia University

Information Products


  • Agronomic: wheat
  • Fruits: apples, berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: hazelnuts
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), leeks, peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Animals: bees, bovine, goats, poultry, rabbits, sheep, swine
  • Animal Products: eggs, fiber, fur, leather, meat
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms, syrup


  • Animal Production: preventive practices
  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, agritourism, budgets/cost and returns, business planning, community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, farm-to-institution, farm-to-restaurant, farmers' markets/farm stands, feasibility study, financial management, labor/employment, market study, marketing management, new enterprise development, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Pest Management: sanitation
  • Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, food hubs, infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, quality of life, sustainability measures, urban agriculture, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    WV has recently made great strides towards building a successful local food economy - 39% more farmers are targeting local customers in 2013 compared to 2011; a three-fold increase in farmers markets from 2005 through 2012, and a growing number of CSAs and local food hubs; WV institutions increased local food purchases by 360% from 2011-2013; and more than 36 county school systems buy directly from WV farms (more than $250,000 in 2013).

    Many production-oriented, IPM and soil conservation programs are being implemented in WV to help producers increase production to meet this local food demand; however, there are few programs targeted to helping farmers understand and manage financial risks of new markets and meet the requirements of wholesale and institutional markets, including food safety, packaging, labeling, transportation, etc. A needs assessment in 2013-2014 (51 ASPs – 71% response and 29 farmer leaders – 11% response) revealed that, generally, producers require continued training and support in whole-farm business planning and risk management to help them identify and mitigate production, financial, marketing, legal and human resource risks.

    This 3-year program is a holistic business planning and risk-management educational program and support network for ASP and farmer leaders focusing on priority topics identified by ASP and producers: on average, 72% of ASP and farmer leaders reported farm financial management, marketing and business planning, farm and food safety planning, and networking and partnership opportunities as priority training areas.

    These topics are relevant to ASP who work with a variety of farm enterprises, from small ruminant and pasture raised beef producers to high tunnels and specialty crop producers, as well as ASPs who work in a business planning and risk management capacity with farmers. Delivering a comprehensive educational program that can raise the knowledge and skill level of a broad group of ASPs will result in better service to WV farmers and ultimately help lead to strengthened WV´s agribusinesses, improved local foods systems, increased rural development, and long-term partnerships among agriculture service providers.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    25 agricultural service providers who gain practical knowledge and skills in selected best management practices in whole-farm planning and risk management will confidently design and deliver related educational programs and services, including but not limited to workshops, webinars, presentations, fact sheets/other educational materials, and individual consultations, to 300 small scale crop and/or livestock producers who manage more than 30,000 acres of farmland.

    100 farmers that manage more than 10,000 acres adopt at least two BMPs in whole-farm planning and risk management, based on training programs or services arising from this program.

    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.