Packed House at Business Planning Workshop

NCAT—along with Fayetteville Public Schools (FPS) and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture (UADoA) Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability—hosted a business planning workshop for farmers on Jan. 28 in Fayetteville, Ark. Though workshop organizers originally expected about 30 participants from the local area, there were 40 attendees from all over Arkansas. Participants included both livestock and crop producers, and experience levels ranged from prospective and beginning to long-time farmers.

A show of hands from participants who have completed business plans for their farms. Photo by Robyn Metzger, NCAT
A show of hands from participants who have completed business plans for their farms. Photo by Robyn Metzger, NCAT

“We had a very participatory group that shared their experiences, which made for a fun and engaging workshop,” said Margo Hale, NCAT Southeast Regional Director.

Sessions led by NCAT staffers included Linda Coffey’s presentation on business planning; Margo’s talk on recordkeeping and basic accounting; and Guy Ames’s discussion of scaling up production. Ally Mrachek, Fayetteville Schools Farm to School Consultant (and former FoodCorps Arkansas member), shared information about growing for and selling to the school through the FPS Farm to School program. Luke Freeman, Horticulture Program Technician with the UADoA, presented on production planning for crops and Margo worked through some livestock production planning scenarios. The workshop ended with a farmer panel to discuss marketing topics. Ron Morrow of Ozark Pasture Beef, Alan Shumate of Shumate Farm (beef), Alex Munson of A&A Orchard, and Mark Cain of Dripping Springs Garden were the panelists. They answered questions and provided marketing tips for the participants.

Linda Coffey talks about setting goals for your farm. Photo by Robyn Metzger, NCAT
Linda Coffey talks about setting goals for your farm. Photo by Robyn Metzger, NCAT

Each participant received several take-home materials, including handouts, ATTRA publications, two books, and a jump drive of electronic resources. You can access many of the resources used in the presentations by visiting the Beginning Farmer Business Planning, Marketing, and Sheep, Goat & Poultry Resources section on the ATTRA– National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website.

Have questions about business planning, production practices, or other sustainable agriculture topics? Call the ATTRA toll free line, 1-800-346-9140; send a question through our online Ask An Ag Expert form; or join our Farmer Knows Best Forum.

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