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Growing for Profit
Monthly Program starts February 18, 2014

This monthly program is designed as an introduction to basic production techniques on a wide variety of topics from pasture management and livestock production to growing vegetables and alternative enterprises. As you consider your options for your farm, learn what is involved and get the resources available to help you be successful.

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Revenue Growth Ideas for Farmers and Growers

There are a couple of good articles in The American Grower publication that cover different ideas for increasing farm revenue.  There is a very good article on U-pick farming that covers almost every aspect of this strategy, including what products work best and what crops to avoid.  One online comment cautioned about lawsuit liability.  The new Florida Agritourism Law has limited this liability considerably for Florida Farmers.  The other article covers more general marketing tips that are very valuable and often forgotten.  Your local Small Business Development Center consultant can help you further develop your marketing plan or evaluate new streams of revenue as you seek to grow your Agribusiness.

Farm to School Fact Sheets

Check out these short and sweet Farm to School Fact Sheets  ==>>

Farming Smart – Saving Money

This is a great article and video explaining the benefit of smart farming and using the data and tools at your disposal to save money and decrease chemical use when it is not needed or beneficiary.  An old Dutch proverb says: “Meten is Weten” which means: “Measuring is Knowing”  This is an example of measuring, knowing, adjusting and saving.


How to Secure a Farm Loan

There is a good article this month in the  Florida Grower about securing a farm loan.  Remember that your Small Business Development Center consultants can help you develop your Business Plan and financial projections in preparation for your meeting with the loan officer.

Meet us at the Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference

The purpose of the annual Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference is to provide farmers with up-to-date, research-based, in-depth educational information. The conference aims to facilitate solutions-based collaboration by encouraging networking and an open dialog among members of Florida’s small farms community.  Attendees participate in workshops, hands-on demonstrations, and organized networking activities, enabling them to share their knowledge while interacting with peers from all over the state.

Visit the  Florida SBDC at UNF at Booth Number: 308.  Come meet Mark Yarick!   Mark has been hired as a consultant to work with businesses in Suwannee and surrounding counties. Mark will lead the FSBDC efforts in growing opportunities in Agribusiness by providing one-on-one consulting, training and information to help business owners make sound decisions and to assist potential owners in getting started on the right foot.

The conference takes place August 1-2 in Kissimmee, FL.



USDA Announces New Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers


USDA Announces New Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers


Department Implementing New Farm Bill Programs, Unveiling New Centralized Online Resource to Support Next Generation of Farmers


DAVIS, Calif., June 23, 2014 – U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced the implementation of new Farm Bill measures and other policy changes to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Harden also unveiled, a new website that will provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.

“New and beginning farmers are the future of American agriculture,” said Deputy Secretary Harden. “The average age of an American farmer is 58 and rising, so we must help new farmers get started if America is going to continue feeding the world and maintain a strong agriculture economy. The new policies announced today will help give beginning farmers the financial security they need to succeed. Our new online tool will provide one-stop shopping for beginning farmers to learn more about accessing USDA services that can help their operations thrive.”

USDA’s New Farmers website has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education, and technical support programs. These issues have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. The website will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.

Today’s policy announcements in support of beginning farmers and ranchers include:

  • Waiving service fees for new and beginning farmers or ranchers to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for the 2014 crop year. NAP provides risk management tools to farmers who grow crops for which there is no crop insurance product. Under this waiver, announced via an official notice (PDF, 171KB) to Farm Service Agency offices, farmers and ranchers whom already enrolled in NAP for the 2014 crop year are eligible for a service fee refund.
  • Eliminating payment reductions under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for new and beginning farmers which will allow routine, prescribed, and emergency grazing outside the primary nesting season on enrolled land consistent with approved conservation plans. Previously, farmers and ranchers grazing on CRP land were subject to a reduction in CRP payments of up to 25 percent. Waiving these reductions for new and beginning farmers will provide extra financial support during times of emergency like drought and other natural disasters.
  • Increasing payment rates to beginning farmers and ranchers under Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) (PDF, 288KB). Under this provision, beginning and farmers can claim up 90 percent of losses for lost livestock, such as bees, under ELAP. This is a fifty percent increase over previously available payment amounts to new and beginning farmers.

In the near future, USDA will also announce additional crop insurance program changes for beginning farmers and ranchers – including discounted premiums, waiver of administrative fees, and other benefits.

These policy announcements are made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit

The Deputy Secretary made these announcements at the inaugural meeting of the reconvened Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee held at the University of California Davis, California. This Advisory Committee, composed of 20 members, including Extension agents, lenders, farmers, ranchers and academics will meet through 2015 to learn, discuss, and formulate recommendations to USDA on how to support new and beginning farmers.

A fact sheet outlining significant USDA efforts to support beginning farmers and ranchers, and other Department-wide accomplishments, are available on


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).



Farmer’s Market Links

This post will be dedicated to some Farmer’s Market Links as we try to streamline the infrastructure between the grower and the plate.

Live Oak Farmer's Market

I also like the branding for the Live Oak Farmer’s Market – 3 parts, easy to remember and easy to understand – Make It – Bake It – Grow It!

Farm to Family is a non-profit, mobile Farmer’s Market in the Jacksonville area.

The Arcadia Mobile Market near Washington DC is also out there taking the food where it is needed.

Finally, the Florida Market Maker is connecting Farmers/Growers with Buyers.  This program has been a work in progress and is only limited by the amount of growers and buyers that use it to increase commerce.

USDA Celebrates Rural Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs During National Small Business Week

National Small Business Week began with a proclamation from President Obama recognizing the small businesses across the Nation which, especially in our rural and small-town communities, making vital contributions to communities and the American economy. Individually, the impact of a small business may seem minor in comparison with conglomerates. Click here to read more:


Five Tips to Secure Your Farm’s Financial Future

Frank Giles posted a great article in a recent Growing Produce Newsletter called  Five Tips to Secure Your Farm’s Financial Future.

The 5 tips are:

  • Build a Team and Plan
  • Expect the Unexpected
  • Save Today
  • Mitigate Risks
  • Purchase Asset
One of the great takeaways of this article is the importance of a team.  Most farmers are great at raising livestock or growing their crop – this is their expertise.  But sometimes the finer points of the business side of farming are not the farmer’s strong suit.  Maintaining profitability and sustaining growth in the business may require the advice of someone who specializes in that.
The importance of planning cannot be overstated.  It is always a good practice to put your ideas down on paper before implementing them.  The practice of planning has a built in element of evaluation.  By the time it is committed to print, you can usually tell if it makes sense and is feasible.  A recent article on Content Marketing stated that ” . . . while not 100% necessary, over 66% of successful companies have a content strategy and plan, or roadmap, that dictates what content is produced and when.”  Planning is an important element of successful implementation.
Your local Small Business Development Center consultant can help you in your efforts to be successful in the business of farming.

The Fresh Market Vegetable Farm

“Growing produce is not the biggest hurdle facing most fresh market vegetable growers; earning a reasonable living poses the greatest challenge.”  That is how a report from the University of Wisconsin begins.  The researchers of this report followed 19 vegetable growers for three years.  Their farms ranged from 1 to 70 acres.  The report compiled information over the three years including labor data (number of employees, cost, hours worked), equipment data (type of equipment, cost and suggested equipment list per farm size), crop data and the marketing approaches used by the farms.

In addition to the useful data the report contains, it is also full of useful conclusions correlated from the data.  One such conclusion is that smaller farms earn greater gross sales by planting in higher densities, providing more care and attention to crops, growing high value crops, planting more than one crop per season and using season extending technology like hoop houses.

The report also contains many benchmarks that a grower could use to compare his operation to the 19 followed in this report.  For instance, this research confirmed that organic vegetables can gross $8,000 to $12,000 per acre.  An aspiring grower will also find these benchmarks useful in developing a business plan for a new venture.  Your local Small Business Development Center consultant can help you develop a business plan.

There is also a section on the quality of life which is the reason many small scale growers chose to get into business.

The study concludes with a section listing the special challenges for the grower and ten keys for success.  One of these keys is to develop a marketing plan.  Your local Small Business Development Center consultant can also help you develop a marketing plan.

The appendices of the report are also very exhaustive.  The only caveat that needs to be mentioned when examining this report is that the data was collected between 2002 and 2004 so some of it may be a little dated.  Even so, the report can be used together with other sources to get a good view of the fresh market vegetable farm.

Mark Yarick is a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultant in Live Oak, Florida.  The SBDC has been helping businesses grow and succeed for more than 35 years, providing consulting at no charge, group training and market research for business owners.

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