; Protecting Profitability for Small and Beginning Farmers in Maryland and Delaware | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Protecting Profitability for Small and Beginning Farmers in Maryland and Delaware

Laurence Crane



This project empowered small, beginning, and limited resource producers of specialty crops in Delaware and Maryland to protect profitability by developing their own holistic risk management plans. Three sequential workshops (18 hours) supplemented by personal assignments and individualized counseling (60 hours) were delivered to 53 producers via a partnership of subject matter experts and local educators.

Participants were relatively inexperienced farmers with 58 percent having farmed for 5 years or less, whereas only 14 percent had 15 years or more experience farming. All had graduated from high school and 91 percent had received some post-high school education, with 58 percent graduating college. Only 6 percent lived exclusively from farm income, however over 50 percent had the goal of eventually doing so. Their main risk concerns were meeting family living expenses, lack of market access, increasing input costs, and availability of credit.

Participants developed the skills and understood their own operations sufficiently to establish holistically written goals for each of the five areas of risk specific to their farm, delineated three specific actions to reach each goal, and committed to implement their personal risk management plan.

At the end of the reporting period 43 participants had accomplished all fifteen actions they had specified in their plans. The other 10 participants, had listed some actions outside the project’s time frame. Participants reported averaging 102.3 hours completing homework assignments, far exceeding the expected 60 hours. This was attributed to both educated and motivated participants, and meaningful homework assignments applicable to them.