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Farm Business Planning course helps farmers succeed

The Issue

Placer and Nevada Counties are home to 2,097 farms, according to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, and 32% of those farmers are considered beginning farmers, having less than 10 years experience in operating a farm. The local food movement has contributed to a growing interest in small-scale farming. Other reasons for starting a small farm include a need for income from existing property and a desire to "get back to the land." Many beginning farmers have limited agricultural and business experience, so farm business management training is a critical need.

What Has ANR Done?

UCCE-Placer/Nevada has been offering an annual Farm Business Planning class since 2008. The 6-week course covers mission and vision statements, enterprise analysis, economic planning for profit, cash flow analysis, operations planning, risk management planning, and marketing. In the final session, participants develop an action plan for the next 3 to 6 months. Participants then report back on their progress at a follow-up meeting 3 months later. Over 55 farms and ranches, including 85 producers, have completed the Farm Business Planning Course since 2008.

The Payoff

Business planning improves the bottom line!

A survey of Farm Business Planning participants since 2008 showed that more than 85% use profit and loss projections, cash flow statements, production and marketing records, and time and motion studies as part of their record-keeping system for decision making. Prior to taking the course, only 44% of participants practiced these strategies. Furthermore, 83% have remained in touch with other members of their farm business planning class; 79% have used risk management plans developed in the course to reduce on-farm risk; 41.4% have expanded the scale of their operations; and 39% stated that their profitability has increased.

Clientele Testimonial

"I have reduced the number of crops I grow to only those that are profitable"-FBP participant
"Know how to evaluate my time and energy as it relates to profitability per enterprise on the farm"-FBP participant
"Changed priorities to infrastructure development rather than jumping in and winging it"-FBP participant
"Grasping the reality that we should not think of our labor as free!"-FBP participant


Supporting Unit: Placer-Nevada Counties

Cindy Fake, Horticulture and Small Farms Advisor, 530.889.7385, cefake@ucanr.edu

Roger Ingram, County Director and Livestock Advisor, 530.889.7385, rsingram@ucanr.edu