; Impacts of Business Training on Small Farm and Ranch Economics | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Impacts of Business Training on Small Farm and Ranch Economics

Cindy Fake and Daniel Macon


Small-scale commercial farms and ranches and a vibrant local food system characterize foothill agriculture in Northern California. However, producers are challenged by high land and labor costs; scale-related constraints; and often, inadequate business management expertise. Helping these farmers and ranchers develop business, marketing, and risk management skills is critical to long-term economic viability.
University of California Cooperative Extension has been providing multi-level intensive farm business training to small-scale producers for twelve years. Our business training uses a hands-on, integrated approach; building skills in economic and market analysis, operations, and risk management planning. Training is small group-focused, with a strong peer-to-peer feedback component. A team of extensionists and local producers lead the training, providing practical, reality-based tools and advice. We have developed a number of tools to meet participant needs, including profitability calculators for mixed farm and orchard operations, operations planning calendars, and templates for operational continuity and emergency planning.
Twelve years of delivering farm business training and analyzing the economics of individual farm and ranch businesses have taught us the critical roles of scale, efficiency, and planning in building profitable small-scale farm businesses. Thus, our training focuses on profitability analysis, efficiency, and building to a profitable scale.
This presentation will discuss the key elements of our training which impact farm profitability, participant survey results, and lessons learned. Our experience shows that small-scale producers who have a solid understanding of their numbers are able to make decisions that improve profitability and enable expansion to scale.