Vermont farmers who own or lease farmland are eligible to apply. Applicants should also have at least 3 years prior farm experience and $10,000 or more of gross farm income in the previous year. These criteria may be waived in special cases.
The Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program offers business planning and technical assistance to Vermont farmers. Services are provided free of charge, following a $75 enrollment fee.
Farmers enrolled in the Program work with a farm business planner provided through cooperating organizations, listed below, or directly with an individual consultant. Our staff works with enrolled farmers to identify a good match for the farm. The consultants provide technical assistance tailored to the farmer’s needs to fulfill specific business goals. Farmers and planning consultants meet and work together for approximately one year to produce a written business plan. In the second year farmers are provided with additional technical assistance and help updating their plans.
The business planning process involves the farmer in an assessment of the farm operation’s strengths and weaknesses and in an exploration of possible management changes that could increase profitability. Examples include consultations on keeping better production or financial records, financial benchmark analysis, meetings with crop or animal health specialists, new farm enterprise analysis, estate and farm transfer planning, labor management, and value-added processing.
Farmers who have completed business plans with the program are eligible for grants towards capital expenses or additional technical support needed in implementing the business plan, when funding is available.
See the Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program website for more information. With specific questions call Liz Gleason at 828-3370.
The Farm Viability Program has worked with 400 farmers and ag-related businesses to increase profits, improve farm management, develop new, value-added products, and plan for farm transfers.
Farmers are matched with consultants to provide individualized business assistance. A farmer who recently completed the program stated that “the program has already changed my whole farm plan and has made me way more organized in ways I never thought possible. I now have a great insight into the future of my farm and my potential income, expenses, and overall production plan, not only this year, but in years to come!”
More information can be found online at www.vhcb.org/viability or by calling 802-828-3370.
Upcoming deadline for applications is March 31.
If your looking for ways to get more organized check out AgSquared, an online farm management program designed with small diversified farms in mind.
One of the case studies listed on the site is Eric Rozendaal’s Rockville Market Farm in Starksboro, VT.
A new online tool for beginning farmers!
The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri has developed an online tool to help farmers build projected budgets for their operations. The Farm Cost and Return Tool, or Farm CART, is at www.fapri.missouri.edu/projects.
“The tool allows beginning farmers and ranchers, not only in Missouri but all over the country, to play a what-if game on the Web,” said FAPRI economist Peter Zimmel. “They can develop a farm with how many acres they want, how many animals they want, and they can see what it will look like financially over the next five years.”\
All farms should have a business plan in place. Without them it can be nearly impossible to obtain grants and loans for the farm. More importantly, a good business can help steer the farm in a direction that is financially viable and in-line with your original vision.
If creating a business plan feels daunting, a one-page business plan can be a good place to start. As the farm business grows you may find the need to expand the plan but a one-page plan is usually enough to make you eligible for grants, loans and other services.
The National Good Food Network’s Field Guide to the New American Foodshed has some great resources on one-page business plans and one-page financial plans.
Check out the one-page plan resource out by clicking here!