Farm Business Management

The educational materials listed on this page are about Farm Business Management.

Growing and selling products profitably is critical to an agriculture business, but there are other aspects that are essential to farm business management. While it is difficult to find grants to start a farm, operating or starting a farm require a basic understanding of ag credit, including FSA loans (and other farm loans), and how to obtain farm credit for an agriculture loan. Savvy producers understand agricultural finance and agricultural accounting, and keep a close eye on farm finances. Farmers need to understand agricultural marketing and may need to know demand for a specific crop, such as with apple marketing. Starting a small farm may include finding land through FarmLink. While some new farmers may get started with a farm internship, others may useless formal farming training or more formal agriculture education. Ultimately, farmers also need to learn about farm labor, farm labor laws or farm succession planning at some point in their career. Key practices include marketing management, financial management, community-supported agriculture, risk management, agricultural finance, whole farm planning, farm succession, land access, labor/employment.

SARE’s bulletin Marketing Strategies for Farmers and Ranchers offers alternatives for producers to market their products through unconventional channels. Building a Sustainable Business aids producers in developing a sustainable and profitable business plan for their enterprise. Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities gives producers options for agricultural loans, grants and technical expertise. Farmers looking to transition to organic will find Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs useful for business planning.

SARE’s bulletin Marketing Strategies for Farmers and Ranchers offers alternatives for producers to market their products through unconventional channels. Building a Sustainable Business aids producers in developing a sustainable and profitable business plan for their enterprise. Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities gives producers options for agricultural loans, grants and technical expertise. Farmers looking to transition to organic will find Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs useful for business planning.

Videos from the Field

SARE, in partnership with Cooking Up A Story, has produced a series of how-to videos showcasing production and marketing practices used by some of the nation’s most successful sustainable farmers and ranchers.

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Cover Crop Economics

Cover crops can build soil health, control weeds, conserve moisture, provide grazing opportunities and more. But when do they start to pay for themselves? This analysis looks at the economics behind different management scenarios to determine if cover crops are likely to improve profitability in one, three or five years of use in corn and soybean rotations. 

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New Release: Cultivating Climate Resilience

Texas ranchers Gary and Sue Price began noticing disruptive changes in the weather about 10 years ago, with dry periods getting drier and hot periods getting hotter. So they began making management decisions that would help their ranch adapt. As a result, when the crippling drought of 2011–2012 arrived, they were able to get by. […]

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Farmers’ Guide to Business Structures

Farmers’ Guide to Business Structures describes the fundamentals of sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited liability companies and C, S and B corporations in straightforward language, to help you choose the best entity for your operation. Selecting the right business entity for your farm is like building the foundation of a house.

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30 Years of SARE: Our Farms, Our Future

30 Years of SARE: Our Farms, Our Future tells the story of thousands of men and women who have led SARE and received SARE grants. They have one objective in common: making American agriculture stronger, more sustainable and better equipped to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.

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Bringing Independent Farmers into the Marketplace

Small- and mid-sized farms are increasingly turning to supermarkets as a means to earn more for their products and to participate in local economies. In this video, Diana Endicott discusses how she decided to take this route 15 years ago when it was less typical, and how her efforts have resulted in a 100-member co-op today that sells to 30 stores in the Kansas City area.

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Building a Local Food Movement

Over the last few decades, agriculture in western North Carolina has transformed from a reliance on tobacco to a diversified, self-sustaining industry intertwined with local communities and economies. In this video, learn how one organization has worked alongside local farmers and communities to support this transformation.

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Supporting Farmer Training Programs in the West

“When I finally came (to ALBA’s Farmer Education Program), I learned so much! How to eat differently, how to plant without pesticides, how to harvest, move the boxes, move the product in the system.”  -Maria Ana Reyes, 2015 graduate of ALBA’s Farmer Education Course. Like Maria Ana Reyes, new and beginning farmers often need technical […]

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How to Conduct Research on Your Farm or Ranch

This 32-page bulletin outlines how to conduct research at the farm level, offering practical tips for both crop and livestock producers, as well as a comprehensive list of more in-depth resources.

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Organic Production

Capitalize on the booming organic industry. This topic room has resources on organic systems, pest management, animal production, marketing, certification, conservation and much more.

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2015/2016 Report from the Field

Read about SARE-funded work in the areas of sustainable dairy cropping systems, soil health assessments, nutrient management, cover crops, beginning farmers, pollinators, technical assistance programs for women farmers, and more. This edition includes highlights of projects funded through the graduate student program, and the highly regarded Sustainable Agriculture Fellowship, a professional development program coordinated by SARE and NACAA.

Cornell University’s Anu Rangarajan in a vegetable crop

National Continuing Education Program

This program is designed for Cooperative Extension and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel, and is also open to farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural professionals nationwide. It emphasizes core concepts and a basic understanding of sustainable agriculture, its goals and its relevance to every farming and ranching operation—large or small.

The core of the national continuing education program is a series of three online courses. Take them now.

download the investing in the next generation of agricultural scientists report in PDF format

Investing in the Next Generation of Agricultural Scientists

Sustainable solutions to today's agricultural challenges arise when scientists, educators and producers work together to test theories in real-world, on-farm situations. For this approach itself to be sustainable, there must be opportunities for the next generation of agricultural scientists to use collaborative, applied research to address the real-world needs of farmers and ranchers. The SARE Graduate Student grant program is one such opportunity—since 2000, the program has supported the work of 600 master's and Ph.D. students.

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The New Farmers’ Market 2nd Edition

The New Farmers' Market - 2nd Edition - is a must-have resource for growers interested in selling their farm or market garden products through farmers' markets, as well as for market managers and city planners in starting, managing, and promoting a market.

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Organic Transition

The profit potential of transitioning to organic production—along with other rewards—has farmers, ranchers and food business owners across the country considering the switch. But successfully managing your business through the multi-year transition process requires careful planning. Use Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs to develop an actionable business transition plan that is suitable for yourself, your management team or a lender.

Ensuring Sustainable Field Crop Agriculture in the Face of a Changing Climate

This curriculum on sustainable agriculture and climate change can be used with clientele, such as farmer groups. The PowerPoint presentation may be adapted to suit your needs and your region of the country. It contains a written script in the notes section. It has general information relative to all types of agriculture and a few specific resources for field crop agriculture. To help you evaluate the effectiveness of this curriculum with your clientele, the authors have included an evaluation form that you can distribute after your presentation.