California’s farms and ranches face unique challenges as small business entrepreneurs, especially disadvantaged farmers who experience factors such as:
- Vulnerability to environmental risks, market volatility, and under-capitalization
- Regulatory and and product liability risks
- Playing a critical role in community food security
- Specialized operational issues including: understanding methods and costs related to the production of crops and livestock and the seasonality of fisheries; ability to assess marketing plans including packing, cooling, shipping, estimated prices and volume and inventory vulnerability (such as to power outages); utilizing agricultural liens including special federal liens for perishable agricultural commodities; managing risk on low-collateral loans, assessing unique risks related to environmental, labeling, food safety and labor regulations.
CAMEO and FarmLink are partnering to train the next generation of farm service providers and educators to specifically address these topics. Participants will hear from experienced small farm business development professionals on what to expect when advising a small farm business. They will also receive FarmLink’s “Resilience Self Assessment,” a comprehensive tool to assess the business health of small farm enterprises, covering a suite of farm business topics, from business entity structure and securing land tenure to credit management and compliance with environmental regulations. Service providers will learn the “ins and outs” of providing specialized assistance to small farms and upon completion of the course will be able to use the RSA in their advising work.
Our target audience is professionals that serve, or would like to serve, small and sustainable farm and ranch businesses, and are motivated to provide more strategic guidance to their agriculture clients.
Project objectives from proposal:
The overall goal of this project is to increase the capacity among small business advising organizations (i.e. Small Business Development Centers, Community Development Corporations, community-based NGOs, extension educators) to effectively serve sustainable farm and ranch businesses. Through a partnership with the CAMEO network of small business advisors, FarmLink will support a growing ecosystem of at least 50 small business service providers, enhancing their knowledge and skills to address specific issues critical to small, sustainable farm business management. This project will also strengthen a new partnership with CAMEO (established through the current Western SARE project) for future engagement including further training opportunities made exclusively to course participants, as well as future opportunities to serve FarmLink’s clientele through its business education, capital and land access programs.
Participants will increase knowledge of the unique risk profile of small, sustainable farm and ranch businesses, and how to identify issues that might threaten the farm’s ability to operate. The proposed program will also increase participants knowledge on a comprehensive suite of topics paramount to small, sustainable farm and ranch business success. At the end of the project, participants will incorporate new tools to approach these topics when working alongside small farm owners and operators.
Through group co-hort trainings and follow-on support from FarmLink, participants will learn how to apply FarmLink’s Farm Business “Resilience Self Assessment” (RSA) tool as a comprehensive diagnostic and guided approach to small business technical assistance and counseling with farm business clients. Through the RSA tool and associated group curriculum, participants will gain insight on how to assess a farmer’s baseline business skills and practices, and find a supportive community to address and prioritize which business skills and practices farm clients should have in place.