Free for Farmers! Workplace Services and Counseling

Farm First is a free and confidential  program available for Vermont farm owners and family members seeking assistance on a  personal and workplace issues. The program can provide assistance when dealing with farm labor issues  that are difficult to resolve on your own.

The program can also provide confidential counseling services related to stress, anxiety, depression,addiction and other situations where the guidance of a professional is needed. The program is available to farm owners and related family members involved in the business. Farm owners can also consider if they want to enroll in expanded employee assistance programs (EAP) to make similar services available for their employees at a very low cost.

Call Farm First at  1- 877- 493- 6216

Click this link for the Farm First description at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture website: Farm First for Vermont Farmers

Follow this web link to Invest EAP

 

Conservation Stewardship Grants at NRCS

Farmers can apply for funding to advance  their conservation investments. Click this link to see the full press release: CSPSignUP_Jan2015 

“CSP is a way of incentivizing farmers, ranchers, and private forest managers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship,” said Vicky Drew, Vermont State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “By focusing on multiple resource concerns, landowners are able to achieve a sustainable landscape and maintain or increase the productivity of their operations.”

Through CSP, participants take additional conservation steps to improve the resource conditions on their land, including soil, air and habitat quality, water quality and quantity, and energy conservation.

Click here to view the full press release: CSPSignUP_Jan2015

February Class: Intro to Ag Finances

Intro to Ag Financial Management

Dates: Feb. 4, 11 & 18, 2015 (Snow date, Feb. 25)
Locations: Berlin or Rutland, VT
Times: 1-4 pm.

Make this the year you bravely step into the world of farm finances!  With two top-notch ag financial management specialist to lead the way, Intro to Ag Financial Management  will help you approach farm finances with confidence. This course provides farmers with the knowledge they need to understand and complete a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. Participants will learn the basics of budgeting and skills to anticipate the financial needs of their farm operations. Participants can choose to participate in a clinic with one‐to‐one assistance at no additional charge. Classes will be offered simultaneously in Rutland and Berlin, Vermont, with an on-site instructor at each location.

Course fee: $150. Registration discounts are available for people who have completed Growing Places and for two or more people attending from the same farm/business. Scholarships are also available.  For more information and to register visit http://www.uvm.edu/newfarmer and click on “Classes.”  You can also email or call Heidi Krantz at newfarmer@uvm.edu, 802-223-2389 x 203.

Family Systems and Farm Business

Emotional Anxiety, Entanglement, Conflict…finding a Family Leader, Neutrality and Coach-ability. These were the concepts discussed at a December training for Farm Viability business advisers provided by Erik Thompson ( http://www.thompsonleadership.com/ ). Dr. Murray Bowen described the natural emotional processes that shape how families and social units function. Bowen Family Systems Theory provides valuable concepts for farm families and farm business advisers seeking to advance common family goals and aspirations in a productive way. It is not easy! Some of the highest risk forms of chronic anxiety in a family system manifest themselves in forms of avoidance and “over-tolerance of irresponsible behavior.”

To move past that, families and family coaches need to test their own emotional maturity to promote the best outcomes. Family leaders will develop , according to Bowen ” ….with the courage to define self, who is as invested in the welfare of the family as in self….whose energy goes to changing self rather than telling others what to do….”

Family coaches and  business consultants work to establish emotional neutrality and emphasize coachability from their clients. For more on Family Systems click this link to the Vermont Center for Family Studies :   http://www.vermontcenterforfamilystudies.org/

You can also check out trainings for Social Sustainability on Farms training programs through Northeast SARE: http://www.uvm.edu/~vtsare/?Page=projects.html&SM=submenu.html

Milk Prices Dropping: New MPP Deadline Dec 19th

The USDA has extended the application deadline for the Dairy Margin Protection Program to December 19th. Milk price forecasts are showing significant decline in prices over the next several months.

Bob Parsons, University of Vermont Ag Economist, has shared these figures below that show the probability of margins dropping below various coverage levels….

“From the table below, the % numbers are the probability of return over feed cost dropping below the amount on the left hand column.  For example while the expected return over feed costs for March-April is $8.52, the probability of it dropping below $7 is 18% and 10% chance of dropping below $6.50. Remember that in the past that when milk prices drop, they tended to drop further than the markets predicted.”

Margin Level Nov-Dec 2014 Jan-Feb 2015 Mar-Apr 2015 May-Jun 2015 Jul-Aug 2015 Sep-Oct 2015 Nov-Dec 2015 Jan-Feb 2016
Expected $12.91 $9.20 $8.52 $8.64 $9.18 $10.13 $10.12 $9.79
< $8.00 13% 39% 39% 30% 15% 21% 29%
< $7.50 6% 28% 29% 21% 10% 15% 23%
< $7.00 2% 18% 20% 15% 6% 10% 17%
< $6.50 10% 12% 10% 3% 6% 12%
< $6.00 5% 7% 6% 1% 4% 8%
< $5.50 2% 4% 3% 1% 2% 5%
< $5.00 1% 2% 2% 1% 3%
< $4.50 1% 1% 1%
< $4.00 1%

New Guide on How to Set Farm Rental Rates

UVM Extension’s new How to Determine the Right Farm Rental Rate Guide was developed to support both farmers and landowners through the process of determining a fair cash rental rate for farmland, equipment and infrastructure in Vermont.

“Farmland and farm infrastructure rental rates can be tough to determine because there are many variables to consider,” says Ben Waterman author of the guide and land access coordinator at the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture. “However, the process can be simple. The guide explains common methods so farmers and landowners can forge lease arrangements with confidence.”

Divided into five sections, the 31-page guide describes approaches to:

  • Assess market rental rates;
  • Assess landowner’s costs of owning land;
  • Value equipment and infrastructure in a lease;
  • Factor the farm business’ net returns in the rental rate; and
  • Assess the farmer’s contributions to the lease arrangement

To download the guide now, go to:  http://www.uvm.edu/newfarmer/land/RentalGuide.pdf

Broiler Chicken Demand Research Report

Download the full report here:

[PDF] Broiler Demand at Small Grocers 2012-2013, FBRR-011

In the fall of 2012 University of Vermont Extension distributed a survey to a group of small  grocers  asking about chicken and egg demand in their stores with a focus on regionally-produced products. Follow-up phone interviews were conducted through the fall of 2013 to get additional feedback from the buyers in these stores. The goal of this work is to understand the demand for local poultry products and to also provide guidance for poultry farmers preparing to conduct their own market research.

Broiler AttributesThe reports provides details about which attributes consumers are looking for in poultry products and also the specific service expectations that small grocers have for farms selling them them poultry.

Click here to view or download the full report:

[PDF] Broiler Demand at Small Grocers 2012-2013, FBRR-011

 

$30,000 Prize for Rural Entrepreneurship

The American Farm Bureau Federation and Georgetown University have launched a challenge program to support entrepreneurship throughout the rural United States. They will award a $30,000 prize to the winner.

Do you have a creative business or business idea? Check out the details for this challenge and imagine what $30,000 would do to get your idea launched.

Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

Setting a Price for Your Farm Business

A farm is worth money and a farm business could be worth money too. Can you imagine selling your customer list to an eager young  farmer and putting $20,000 the bank? Most farm owners have put in hours upon hours to oversee the business.  We often call these efforts the “sweat equity” that an owner contributes to the business. Here is the catch…the farm owner must sell something in order to recoup any of that sweat equity. (skip to the Business Valuation for Sale methods guide by Rosalie Wilson)

Many farms are reliant on large amounts of land and equipment and it can take many years of paying down loans to build up equity  in the business. The benefit of all those years of hard work and deferred owner draws (cash draw) is that the farm owner owns land that has appreciated (gone up) in value. Accurate appraisal of your land and other assets is an essential step in setting a price on your farm.

Farm business models have evolved in the past 30 years. Many viable and profitable farm businesses have more to sell than land and equipment. Owners can recoup the sweat equity of product development, establishing a customer base and creating an opportunity for a new owner through the process of  business valuation and sale. This is an essential step for brand based products  or farm businesses with innovative market strategies. Remember, sweat equity doesn’t mean anything unless you make a plan to get paid for it.

Follow this link to download the Business Valuation for Sale methods guide by Rosalie Wilson. It describes 5 key valuation methods: Capitalization rate, comparable analysis valuation, asset based valuation, land use valuation and the honest “real life” valuation.