Training Agriculture Professionals and Educators to Support Diversified Vegetable Farmers with Cost Analysis

Project Overview

SPDP22-016
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipients: Oregon Tilth; Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center at Alcorn State University; Alabama Cooperative Extension, Auburn University; Tuskegee University; Sustainable Food Center; Louisiana Central; Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Cooperative Extension; Sprout New Orleans; Carter Farms
Region: Southern
State: Mississippi
Principal Investigator:
Tanya Murray
Oregon Tilth

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, budgets/cost and returns, business planning, financial management, record keeping, cost analysis

    Proposal abstract:

    Crop specific cost information is foundational to financial planning and ultimately to operating economically sustainable farms that support farmer livelihoods and allow farmers to remain in business for the long-term, yet many farmers don’t have these vital business records.

    A needs assessment conducted by the Mississippi Small Farms and Agribusiness Center (MSFAC) found that the majority of farmers in their program are operating without financial records:

    A second critical barrier is financial planning. Approximately 90% of NBFRV in the current grant are farming without records or farm business plan. Without viable financial records or farm business plan, producers miss out on tracking their spending, using records to mitigate financial risks, management of agricultural credit, budget forecasting, and financial analysis….”  (MSFAC-Farm Management Education Program, 2020). 

    Oregon Tilth and Oregon State University’s Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems have developed Know Your Cost To Grow (KYCTG), an online curriculum and cost calculation app that guides diversified vegetable farmers through a process to determine crop specific costs of production and utilize cost information in business planning and decision-making.

    We will train MSFAC and educators from seven additional organizations in the Southeast to use the KYCTG program. Employing a “learn by doing” approach to deliver this training, we will coach trainee organizations as they support a cohort of farmers with going through the curriculum. This approach will provide trainees with hands-on experience, leading to the proficiency and confidence required for adoption of KYCTG as a key component of their programming going forward.

     

     

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The primary goal of this project is to train agricultural professionals and educators to become skilled and confident at using the KYCTG program.

    Specific objectives for agricultural professionals and educators include proficiency with:

    • Identifying key cost related records for farmers to focus on, emphasizing inputs that are variable with production volumes and crop specific (especially labor inputs).
    • Supporting farmers to develop systems to capture in-season records using the time study approach.
    • Identifying and implementing effective strategies for providing accountability and coaching to farmers through the in-season record keeping process.
    • Supporting farmers with utilization of the web based KYCTG cost calculation app.
    • Utilizing cost information to identify opportunities to increase crop profitability and make decisions about crop mix. 

    As a result of participating in this train-the-trainer program, trainers will incorporate KYCTG into their regular program offerings and will recommend this program to colleagues.

    By equipping these service providers with the KYCTG program, we will expand the reach of this program, ultimately empowering more farmers to make more informed business decisions, improving the long-term economic well-being and quality of life of farmers and leading to more economically sustainable farms.

     

    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.