; Empowering Beginning Women Farmers through Whole Farm Planning | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Empowering Beginning Women Farmers through Whole Farm Planning

Peggy Sechrist


A holistic approach to farm planning and decision-making is successfully preparing women farmers to mitigate their risks. Since risk variables are so dynamic, a method for managing risks that is grounded in decision-making skills prepares the farmer for whatever comes.

For two years the “Empowering Beginning Women Farmers in the Northeast through Whole Farm Planning Program” has served the target population in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. The 180 women (a total of 270 to be trained) received training in goal setting, decision-making, financial planning, business planning, marketing, time management, leadership and communication, grazing planning, soil fertility, and land planning.

This presentation will focus on two of the skill sets included in whole farm training. The first is Gross Profit Analysis. While training a farmer to make savvy choices about marketing is vital, the real leverage point is in managing expenses. There a farmer has total control. Gross Profit Analysis lets a farmer see which enterprises, after direct costs and risks associated with them have been factored in, produce the most income for the least additional cost.

The second skill set is a holistic decision-making matrix. This set of seven questions is specifically designed to enable the farmer, when faced with a risky choice, to sift through the many complex variables to get to the heart of the matter – the choice that meets the triple bottom line of economic, ecological, and social sustainability. This skill set empowers a farmer to assess any risk that arises.