Professional Development Program






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Unit 1: Planning and Business Development

Step 1. Assess Current Situation: Inventory Resources

Resource inventories are an important planning tool. It is impossible to know what will be economically, ecologically and physically feasible without first knowing what resources are already accessible. Farmers should clearly identify physical, financial and human resources available to the farm business before brainstorming new business strategies. Click on each category below to learn more.

Human Resources

Who is involved in the operation directly and indirectly and what are their skills? A human resource inventory need not be complicated. You can assist farmers and ranchers by asking them to simply draft a list of those who are involved in the management and the day-to-day farm and marketing work. The list might also include community members, entrepreneurs, experienced farmers, local business owners, residents and customers as well as educators and other professionals who play some role in the farm business. Next to each person’s name could be a description of their responsibilities and the skills that they bring to the farm business.

Financial Resources

What financial resources have been accrued or are available in the form of capital assets, working capital and short- and long-term financing? Financial inventory worksheets and other tools abound. So, where to begin? Balance sheets are the most recognized tool for financial inventories. A balance sheet lists all business assets and liabilities – showing what is owned and owed. Assets include current accounts, breeding livestock, machinery and equipment, farm land, buildings and improvements, and other long-term assets. Another financial tool useful for inventorying resources is the “whole farm trend analysis,” which enables you to document financial history/performance over time. This analysis usually includes the value of crop acreage and livestock, net farm income, return on assets, and labor and management earnings.

Natural and Physical Resources

What type of land, soil, water, buildings and other physical resources are available? A farm map is particularly helpful when taking this inventory. The map can be drawn to show the size and configuration of important physical features such as fields used for crop production, pastures, woodlands, lakes, ponds and streams. The map might also include man-made features such as permanent fence lines, contours, grass waterways, irrigation wells and farmstead buildings. Check out: Developing a Farm Map by Merilark Padgett-Johnson.

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