Without laying out a plan, a Farm Business Plan, plants may grow but the farm, most likely, will not be successful. The first step you should consider, especially if you are starting a farm in partnership with others (family, investors, etc.) is to determine the values, the vision and the goals of your farm operation.
Defining your values early on (personal, environmental, community, economic) will enable others to identify with your farm as well as aid with management decisions that may present in the future. Defining your farm’s vision helps to imagine how your farm will look in the future and what products and services you will be offering in five, ten, or fifteen years.
Since there are no standard business plans, developing one can be overwhelming. However, going through the exercise of planning your farm helps you collect all the information you need to grow at a pace that fits you. Business plans are requested by the appraiser if you need agricultural exemption on your property or by a lending institution if you request a loan for the farm. Once you have started your business plan and have a robust draft, your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or, an agribusiness development extension agent, can give you feedback on it. The more complete your plan is, the greater the benefit you will get from the feedback. Below are some resources to get you started:
- Primer for Developing a Farm Business Plan (Evans 2008). It gives you a basic overview of how a business plan should be developed.
- Farm Business Start-Up Checklist and Resource Guide for Northeast Florida. It provides you with several resources to help you develop each section of the business plan.
- The Ag Plan. It is a business plan tool focused on agricultural businesses (developed by the University of Minnesota). It may include more detail than what you may have, but it gives a place to start.
Small Business Development Center in North Florida
212 North Ohio Avenue, Live Oak, FL 32060
Ph. 386-362-1782, Fax: 386.362.1784
Other sections – Starting a Farm in Alachua County:
- Choosing and growing your crop successfully
- General resources for new farmers
- Education opportunities