Building Negotiation Knowledge and Skills for Enhanced Economic and Environmental Sustainability of Western Farm Businesses

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $88,666.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2025
Host Institution Award ID: G119-23-W9214
Grant Recipients: University of Idaho; University of Wyoming; Montana State University
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Patrick Hatzenbuehler
University of Idaho
John Hewlett
University of Wyoming, Department of Agricultural Economics
Dr. Hernan Tejeda
University of Idaho
Joel Schumacher
Montana State University


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: business planning, farm-to-institution, farm succession, marketing management, risk management, whole farm planning
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, partnerships, quality of life, social capital, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    Negotiation is the achievement of an agreement among parties via interpersonal communication. Improved interpersonal communication and negotiation skills can plausibly help sustain economic viability of farms and increase the quality of life by reducing the likelihood of conflict.

    Extension faculty at the University of Idaho, Montana State University, University of Wyoming and collaborating partners in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming propose to develop a comprehensive program that improves farmers and ranchers’ negotiation skills throughout the US West.

    The proposed program expands on existing work by the principal investigators, several collaborators, and other Extension colleagues. Beginning in 2020, the PIs discussed needs, planned, and created a series of seven “Negotiation in Agriculture” guides and four course modules that include short video presentations, quizzes, and opportunities to interact with others online. Several more are in the final stages of development. (See Western Extension Committee, 2021 or for more detail.)

    However, through the process of creating these pedagogical tools, the PIs became aware that the need for negotiation resources in western agricultural communities was larger than anticipated. The proposed project will expand on existing efforts by both enhancing online content and offering an in-person train-the-trainer event.

    The project includes development of comprehensive educational material, covering both online and print curricula, that focuses on two main aspects of negotiation: 1) the basics of interpersonal communication and dialogue; and 2) negotiations within an agricultural context. These curricula will be developed for ongoing online-based programming. There will also be an in-depth, in-person training of agricultural professionals (e.g., county Extension Educators/Agents) throughout the US West, who will subsequently impart their training to local agricultural stakeholders. A website will be developed to host the curricula materials as well as an online forum where agricultural Extension county professionals can interact, share experiences, and practice negotiation techniques. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The proposed project will provide training on negotiation skills and techniques to agricultural professionals such as western state Extension personnel, western US state department of agriculture staff, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) staff, or others who will, in turn, implement and conduct negotiation-focused educational activities for western farmers, ranchers, and other interested members of the western agricultural community.

    Aligned subject matters – business risk management, planning, stakeholder engagement, community development, communications

    Project objectives:

    1. Increase the capacity of agricultural professionals throughout the western United States in interpersonal communication and negotiation skills and techniques in a manner that facilitates the dissemination of such knowledge and skills to members of the western agricultural community with diverse backgrounds, skills, and beliefs, especially historically marginalized groups, beginning, limited resource, and veteran farmers and ranchers.
    2. Increase the use of interpersonal communication and negotiation skills and techniques among members of the western US agricultural community by building and enhancing their capacity to facilitate and engage in fruitful negotiations, which will likely lead to better business and personal relationships, and improved quality-of-life. Emphasis will be placed specifically on using negotiation best practices to reduce general business risk and improve environmental sustainability of western farm and ranch operations.
    3. Improve the awareness among agricultural business and policy stakeholders and members of the public on the importance of negotiation-related knowledge and skills that improve communication and relationships for enhanced quality of life throughout the western agricultural community.
    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.