Professional Development Program






Course 2 Resources

The resources listed here cover the three units of this course: business planning, marketing, and farm business management. It includes publications and a variety of Web resources that will help you in your work with farmers and ranchers on this important topic.  To find out about other business planning and marketing resources in your state or region, contact your local Cooperative Extension office or state SARE coordinator.
Educational Programs and Advisory Services
Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI). AURI provides feasibility analysis, product development assistance and technical support for businesses in Minnesota. This non-profit organization, established by the Minnesota legislature, helps business owners move value-added products into the marketplace through business plan and marketing assistance; product development and testing; and distribution assessment.
Farm Beginnings Program. Land Stewardship Project. Farm Beginnings provides a wide range of trainings, including Farm Dreams, Farm Beginnings, and the Journeyperson Course. They also facilitate a network of farmers throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, who lead field days, share skills, and support each other. The program also offers a Farm Transition Toolkit and a clearinghouse that connects land owners and land seekers.
Center for Rural Affairs: Rural Enterprise Assistance Project. REAP is committed to strengthening rural communities in Nebraska through small, self-employed business development. Services include: financing (micro loans), business training, technical assistance, and networking.
Cooperative Development Services (CDS). CDS works with crop and livestock producers to add value to their products through cooperative value-added processing. CDS also works with processors to identify market niches and opportunities in a changing marketplace. CDS provides expertise in conventional, sustainable and organic agriculture. Services offered include market research, feasibility analyses and business planning. CDS also works with producers to procure funding.
Cultivating Success: Sustainable Small Farms Education. The Cultivating Success™ Program offers a series of courses that provide beginning and existing farmers with the planning and decision-making tools, production skills and support necessary to develop a sustainable small acreage farm. For small acreage farmers and ranchers in Idaho and Washington.
Enterprising Rural Families is a 26-week, self-paced course designed by University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension. The course is designed to help farm/ranch families answer questions such as: Where are you now? Where would you like to go? How will you get there? The course can be delivered on-line or via CD and includes a supporting monthly newsletter.
Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management. This course developed by the Oregon State University Small Farms Program is intended for people who are considering starting a farm business, those within their first five years of farming and others who may be considering major changes to their farm business. Through a series of six online modules, it provides farmers and ranchers with the tools and knowledge needed to develop and manage a successful farm business. The fully online version is open to farmers and ranchers nationwide.
Iowa State University Extension Value Added Agriculture Program. This program provides leadership and assistance to Iowa farmers and ranchers for strategic planning, feasibility analysis and business plan development.
Northeast Beginning Farmers Project: Online Courses. This program based at Cornell University offers a wide range of courses on developing a farm business. Courses generally run 5-7 weeks and are presented in a Webinar format supplemented with online discussions, readings and assignments.

Tilling the Soil of Opportunity Course. Business Planning for Agricultural Entrepreneurs from NxLeveL Training Network. This is a 36-hour course designed to guide agriculture entrepreneurs through a comprehensive business planning process. The NxLeveL organization provides the curriculum and instructor training. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office or state SARE coordinator to find out if the course is being offered in your region.
Crisis Hotlines for Farm Businesses
Publications and Web Resources
Ag Help Wanted:  Guidelines for Managing Agricultural Labor. Howard Rosenburg. University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. 2002.
Ag Risk and Farm Management Library. Risk Management Agency (RMA), USDA. The National Ag Risk Education Library is a major component of USDA's RMA program. The Library organizes thousands of risk management materials that help producers and agricultural professionals quickly locate information, tools and assistance on specific risk management topics.
AgTransitions. University of Minnesota Extension. AgTransitions helps farmers & ranchers develop a plan to transition their business to the next generation.
America's Diverse Family Farms (2014 Edition). Robert Hoppe and James MacDonald. Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-133), USDA Economic Research Service. 2014.
Annie’s Project. Based in the Midwest, Annie’s Project works in collaboration with Iowa State University Extension to empower farm women through the development of business management skills. Annie’s project offers workshops and encourages network building among women.

ATTRA Marketing, Business and Risk Management Resources. Numerous publications covering topics in organic marketing and labeling, direct marketing, value-added and processing, business planning and management, funding and financing, risk management, cooperatives, and other topics. 
Ag Plan. Center for Farm Financial Management, University of Minnesota. Many business planning resources including includes real business/marketing plans from sustainably managed farm businesses across the United States. Register at no cost to access all the resources on this Web site.
Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing A Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses. Gigi DiGiacomo, Robert King and Dale Nordquist. USDA SARE and Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. 2003.
Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities  A Guide to Federal Programs for Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Entrepreneurship, Conservation, Food Systems, and Community Development. U.S. Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI), the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). Features summaries of many grant programs, contact information and grant-writing tips.
Developing and Improving Your Farm Records. James Hanson, Dale Johnson and Billy Lesley. Maryland Cooperative Extension, University of Maryland. Fact Sheet 542. 1991.
Direct Marketing.. Katherine Adam, Radhika Balasubrahmanyam, and Holly Born. ATTRA. 2016.
Farm Business Planning Resources. List of resources compiled by
Financial Management for the Growing Business. Indian Hills Community College, Small Business Development Center, Ottumwa, Iowa. 1990.
Farm Succession Guidebook. Online manual developed by California FarmLink.
Farm Transfer Network of New England: Resources. Extension educators and nonprofit groups have teamed up to offer a variety of educational resources on family communication, goal setting, estate planning issues, legal transfer issues and case studies.
Farmers' Guide to Business Structures. Rachel Armstrong, Erin Hannum, Laura Fisher and Lisa Schlessinger. Farm Commons. 2018.
FINPACK business plan software. Center for Farm Financial Management, University of Minnesota. Software includes a comprehensive outline, sample plans from sustainable agriculture businesses, and detailed information on what should be included in the marketing section of a business plan. Professional and personal versions available.
Human Resource Management in Agriculture. Ohio State University Extension.
Business Development. Ag Marketing Resource Center, Iowa State University Extension.
Human Resource Management for Farm Business in Manitoba. University of Wisconsin Extension.
Marketing Strategies for Farmers and Ranchers. USDA-SARE. December 2006. This 20-page bulletin spotlights innovative, SARE-funded research into a range of marketing options, including farmers markets, CSA, tourism, direct-marketing meat, season extension, value-added, sales to restaurants, public campaigns, Internet and more.
The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff—and Making a Profit. Richard Wiswall. Chelsea Green Publishing. 2009
Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers, and Food Entrepreneurs. Gigi DiGiacomo, Robert P. King and Dale Nordquist. USDA SARE. 2015.
Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management. ATTRA/NCAT. 2008.
Business Planning Training Materials. Center for Farm Financial Management, University of Minnesota.
Retirement and Succession Planning of Farm Households: Results from a National Survey. Ashok Mishra, James Johnson and Mitchell J. Morehart. 2003.
Resources: Cornell University Small Farms Program offers an excellent listing of recordkeeping, financial planning and business management resources aimed at smaller, diversified farm businesses.
Resources on Marketing. List of resources compiled by Oregon State University Small Farms Program.
RightRisk. An education coalition that includes Colorado State University and University of Wyoming, University of Arizona, University of Idaho, Montana State University, University of Nevada, Utah State University and Washington State University Extension. RightRisk is a risk research and education effort (on-line tools, publications) to help farmers/ranchers understand and explore risk management decisions and evaluate the effects of those decisions.
The Small Business Money Guide: How to Get It, Use It, Keep It. Terri Lonier & Lisa Aldisert. Wiley. 1998.
USDA New Farmers Website. USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.  Clearinghouse for curriculum and training resources for new and beginning farmers.
Starting An Ag-Business: A Pre-Planning Guide. Steve Richards, Department of Applied Economics and Management, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, June 2004.
Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report (2014 Edition). Robert Hoppe. Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-132), USDA Economic Research Service. 2014.
Transfer and Estate Planning .University of Minnesota Extension. This website covers estate planning principles, will creation, asset distribution, trusts, income tax issues, life insurance, estate settlement and more.
Whole Farm—Strategic Planning Resources (Ag Decision Maker). Iowa State University Extension.