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Business planning helps small farms in a challenging economy

The Issue

Small-scale foothill farmers and ranchers are known for the quality of their products. However, excellent animal or crop production skills, hard work and dedication may not be sufficient to maintain an economically viable farm business. No matter how good their product, farmers and ranchers who lack the business and marketing skills critical to a viable small business may not be successful.

What Has ANR Done?

UCCE farm advisors Roger Ingram and Cindy Fake, in cooperation with farmers Dan Macon and Allen Edwards and Foothill Farmers Market manager Carol Arnold, developed a six-week farm business planning course with sessions on financial analysis tools, financial statements, weak links, operations planning, evaluating existing and alternative enterprises, analyzing markets and action plans.

Limited class size allows participants to develop a support network. The class was offered in 2008 and 2009. Each class continues to meet and offer advice and support to each other.

The Payoff

Stronger businesses, stronger agricultural community

To date, 16 farms have participated in the course and have taken steps to put their businesses on a more stable economic footing. Producers now know how to manage cash flow, analyze the costs, returns and weak links in their farming business and plan for a profitable future.

The real strength of the class is the peer-to-peer trust and interaction. Class participants may include fruit, vegetable, livestock, timber or wine producers, and the diversity allows each producer to see that other farmers and ranchers face similar issues. The participants have developed a network of fellow producers who can offer useful advice because of their understanding of each other’s operations. The class strengthens the local agricultural economy and the local agricultural community by building more economically viable businesses and farmer-to-farmer support.


Supporting Unit: Placer-Nevada Counties

Cindy Fake, (530) 889-7385, cefake@ucdavis.edu
Roger Ingram, (530) 889-7385, rsingram@ucdavis.edu