Farm Business and Budget Clinics in October

UVM Extension farm business educators (Mark Cannella, Tony Kitsos and Betsy Miller) are available to work one-on-one with farmers on their finances and business planning.Fall 2016 Business and Budget Clinics are scheduled for October 11- October 28 at our statewide offices. Reserve an appointment now at

Bring your financial statements, business plans, recent records and questions for this 1 ½ hour scheduled private meeting. This might include internal accounting statements, the IRS Schedule F and files on a portable farm computer. Use the time to prepare the statements that will help manage the business.The session can also be used to review a written business plan or feasibility plan.

In this session you can expect to develop an accurate balance sheet or a budget for the farm. Alternatively, the time can be used to assess or revise business planning goals including: capital access, marketing,strategic planning, and business plan preparation.

Business Planning Wallpaper? The Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is going up on barn walls and office doors throughout CaptureVermont. UVM Extension Forest Business Educator Chris Lindgren began using this business planning tool with loggers and mill owners over the past year. This is the perfect resource for farmers and forest professionals that want a better visualization of key business areas as they work on their business strategies.

A manager can make notes on the canvas, draw arrows or use post-it sticky notes that can be reshuffled in real time as the business changes. The Business Model Canvas is a nice alternative to other business planning templates that are based on preparing a multi-page narrative document.

The Business Model Canvas and more resources can be found at Strategyzer



New Maple Benchmark Report Highlights Top Profit Strategies

UVM Extension has published the 2014 Maple Benchmark report. This report displays detailed financial measures for maple producers from 2,500 taps to over 50,000 taps. Go to our Maple Benchmark page to download reports and learn more about the program.

Analysis of the 2014 season shows that top profit producers have a variety of ways to reach financial success with a maple business. Key findings reveal:

  • Average Cost of Production for Operating Expenses average $2.09 per pound or $9.15 per tap across 18 participating businesses
  • Full Economic Cost of Production (with depreciation and a valuation of owner management) averages $3.75 per pound or $15.71 per tap.
  • Top profit producers achieved high production income in relation to their investments. This comes from a combination of high yields and/or higher-paying market prices. In many cases the top profit producers are NOT low cost producers but they are able to generate optimum income based on their expenses.

Download the 2014 Maple Benchmark for all the details.

UVM Extension is Hiring a Farm Business Educator

Job Posting: Extension Farm Business Educator

The University of Vermont Extension seeks a Farm Business Educator to deliver business management education to owners and managers of commercial farms. The position will focus on business analysis, financial planning and outreach education programs.  A Bachelor’s Degree in agriculture, economics or a closely related field and at least 3 years of experience in agricultural development is required.  The University is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity of the institution and deliver high quality outreach programs to a broad audience. Applicants are encouraged to include in their cover letter information about how they will further this goal. The position is located in Berlin Vermont. This is a grant funded position that starts at 0.80 FTE with the option to increase over time.  For further information or to apply, search for posting # S796PO at our website: .

Public Input on Water Quality Regulations Due July 7th

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is collecting public comment on the new water quality rules and Required Agricultural Practices (RAPS) until Thursday July 7th. A series of public hearings on the updated proposed RAP rule were held in June tomanure injection explain changes to the proposed rule over the past several months.

Submit your comments to the Agency of Agriculture by July 7th. At that point, the RAPS rule will undergo final revisions and be prepared for legislative review in August. Click here to see the rule making timeline.


Public Comment regarding the Draft RAPs can be submitted by e-mail to the address below:

Cage Free: Animal Welfare or Omega Emotion

As a farm business adviser it can be very difficult to reconcile a few concepts that impact farm viability and innovation. This Canadian article on fast-food giants converting to cage free eggs does a great job discussing the market and production dynamics at play in food systems:

The Cage Free Trend… (the Globe and Mail)

Back to farm planning topics. First: consumer is king, queen and treasurer, right? Farmers must provide a product to the market that is in demand. Second: price-maker or price taker? Farms that innovate have the opportunity to set prices, at least for a while, until the rest of the suppliers catch up.

Consider an innovation that dazzles the consumer population. But remember that the  98% of the US population that are non-farmers are guided by factors reasonably detached from practical farm matters or even science based attributes. Add a few mega corporations, advocacy groups and social media into the mix and now you have a marketplace. Check out this article: The Cage Free Trend… (the Globe and Mail)


Maple Benchmark on TV!

UVM Extension Across the Fence ran a television show on maple business and the Maple Benchmark project. Maple Benchmark: Across the Fence 4/12/16

Reports are coming in that 2016 is a record crop season. Producers are excited about yields but wary about possible price shifts if supply outpaces demand. Tune in to see what maple business owners consider to ensure this great Vermont product reaches your kitchen table.

Click this link to watch the segment: Maple Benchmark: Across the Fence 4/12/16

Building Brands in a Small Farm Food System


Fifteen years ago the buzz word was “direct sales”, seven years ago it was “scaling-up” and in 2016 the call is to build brands. Many small farms and their owners can’t manage the “scale-up”. Can food systems entrepreneurs harness the cumulative capacity of small farms to supply market demands both near and far?

Check out this recent article originally published  in Local Banquet (Spring 2016)     
and featured through the Vermont Farm to Plate website: Building Brands in a Small Farm Food System

Eggs out of stock 10-11-11                                    A store with empty shelf space in 2011 for locally produced eggs

Online Farm Planning Resources


Farm managers have dug into winter business planning projects and by now everyone has identified key questions that require analysis, research and technical information. UVM Farm Viability has filtered the internet universe and posted  the best resources to assist managers with legal decisions, market research and financial records. Visit our Resource Library and open up the Legal Toolbox, Market Toolbox and archive of online recordings.

Grants for Dairy Farms Due February 12th

Apply for Dairy Improvement Grants up to $20,000

With grant funds donated by Commonwealth Dairy and in partnership with the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, Dairy Farmers of AmericaHousing Vermont, and the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program provides grants of up to $20,000 to Vermont dairy farmer members of the St. Albans Co-op and Dairy Farmers of America to make farm improvements. This round of funding is for projects that will improve water quality and help farmers meet new water quality regulations. Application deadline is February 12th

Click this link for application information: Dairy Improvement Grants