; THE FARM AND RANCH SURVIVAL KIT | Conferences | AgRisk Library



Brian Tuck


Lack of profitability is a major threat to agricultural enterprise sustainability. Despite the critical importance of business planning and analysis, few producers have much knowledge or interest in receiving training about this topic. Due to competing time demands, fear of being perceived as struggling financially and/or disinterest in the subject, few producers attend public workshops on financial topics.

The Farm and Ranch Survival Kit program was developed to address the financial risk management educational needs of agricultural producers in a non-threatening, user-friendly manner using simple yet innovative delivery techniques. An invitational postcard was sent to agricultural property owners in the Mid-Columbia River area. Respondents enrolled in the program and opted to receive six monthly installments of risk management educational materials in hard copy or electronic format. Each installment highlighted a farm enterprise financial sustainability topic such as Enterprise Diversification, Marketing Strategies, Farm Financial Analysis, Business and Strategic Planning, Interpersonal Skill Development and Farm Succession Planning.

More than 160 participants enrolled in the program. Hundreds of others accessed program materials online and/or attended supplemental workshops. Due to increased knowledge, appreciation for topic importance, development of trust with program sponsors and decreased fear, workshops were very well attended. Topics included Ranching for Profit, Land Lease Agreements, Farm Succession Planning, Farm Business Analysis and other agriculture business topics.

Program effectiveness was measured by progress toward self-selected goals and a telephone survey. Respondents reported they would eliminate non-profitable enterprises, evaluate new ventures, reduce overhead costs, do more financial analyses, change marketing methods and restructure.