A Q&A with Farm Business Planning Co-Manager Alex Fouliard Alex Fouliard is MFT’s Farm Business…
In 2021, MFT is offering two business planning programs for farmers: The Business of Farming and Farming for Wholesale. The organization has offered business planning training programs to farmers since 2016 in order to enhance farmers’ abilities to make informed decisions about their farm operations. These services strive to support thriving farms in order to create healthy, vibrant communities throughout the state of Maine. This year there are a couple of exciting changes to the programs, including new eligibility guidelines and additional curriculum topics.
The Business of Farming is for experienced farmers who want to analyze their current business model. This program was previously referred to as Farming for Wholesale 101 and is now open to farmers interested in all markets, instead of solely wholesale. Throughout this program, farmers will draw on a panel of business experts from around the state, as well as other growers, in order to uncover the story of their financial records and develop their ability to make strategic business decisions that move them towards their goals. In this program, students will participate in 7, 2.5 hour live, virtual workshops with other farmers, work with a service provider for up to 20 hours of tailored business planning assistance and receive a $1,000 seed grant upon completion of the program.
During the program, students will have a chance to use last year’s actual records to find their most (& least) profitable crops; get tips and tricks on bookkeeping best practices and tools; learn how to keep and read financial records; identify potential markets and evaluate their fit for their farm or product; practice doing market research and putting marketing tactics together into a strategy for success; update their vision and goals for their business and weave them into business management decisions; and give consideration to their plan for long-term financial success and eventual succession/transition. Registration is open until December 14th. The workshops are in January and February and technical assistance is offered over the course of the year. Upon completion of the workshops and successful participation in technical assistance, each farmer will be awarded a $1,000 seed grant.
Farming for Wholesale is for experienced farmers who currently serve wholesale accounts and are ready to scale up significantly. Farming for Wholesale is a highly-selective, competitive application program. Farmers will receive up to 50 hours per year of individually tailored business planning assistance for 1-2 years. And participate in workshops that pose questions and challenges about scaling up to your farming peers and service providers. Each participating farmer will have the opportunity to submit their scaled-up business plan to compete for an Implementation Grant of up to $50,000.
During the program, students will have a chance to work with an experienced team of business, production and marketing advisers over 1-2 years; firm up their understanding of their farm’s production costs; have accurate financial records suitable for a business plan; evaluate possible scenarios for scaling up their business; and write a business plan based on their most preferable scenario. (Please note: Farmers are not required to have participated in Farming for Wholesale 101 or the Business of Farming to apply for Farming for Wholesale (previously called FFW 201). However, if they are accepted into 201, and have not participated in FFW 101 or BOF, they will be required to attend the workshops series). Applications were accepted until November 30th.
Find out more details about these programs and to register or apply!