Dairy Grant Workshops for December 15th Deadline

Vermont dairy farms can apply for Dairy Improvement Grants up to $40,000 from the VHCB Farm and Forest Viability program in partnership with Commonwealth Dairy. Farmer grant submissions are due December 15th.

UVM Extension Farm Business Educators will hold free sessions to discuss eligibility, requirements and preparation for submitting a Dairy Improvement Grant application.  Register to join a group session and begin to prepare your application during the workshop. Sessions are being offered statewide from November 29th – December 9th.  Click this sheet for locations, times and registration information: Dairy Improvement Grant Workshops

Follow these links for more information on the grants program.

Dairy Grant Instructions (includes eligible projects and selection criteria)

VHCB Dairy Grants webpage

To register for a workshop contact Christi Sherlock at 1-866-860-1382 or christi.sherlock@uvm.edu

 

 

Building Brands in a Small Farm Food System

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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

10 Reasons Money Does Not Matter in Farming

What is the best reason you have heard about why money does or does not matter on a farm? Send in a comment.

When I entered the field of farm business education and consulting I entered with the naïve perception that farm managers would seek out strategies that improved the financial performance of the farm and themselves. Time and time again my presumption has proved wrong. Here is a list of reasons that money does not matter in farming. They all come from very reasonable farmers, for better or worse.

• If we were profitable, we’d have to pay taxes to the government.
• How could we continue to market products at these high prices if people knew we were actually making money?
• It’s not about money…. It’s about the land and the animals.
• The economy/marketplace does not yet recognize the true value of what we do as farmers, someday it will.
• If we made more money, my spouse would expect to go on a vacation. I don’t much want to leave the farm and the prospect of sitting on a beach with nothing to do does not appeal much either.
• Our daughter will get better financial aid packages for college if we show a loss.
• To make more money we’d have to make some tough decisions and probably makes some changes too.
• We won’t have any retirement savings when we get old, but our kids will take care of us just like we did for our parents.
• Farming is risky business and if you can’t handle that you should get out. I heard Extension has some jobs open.
• When you work this hard and don’t make hardly anything you can’t think about money. It’s too depressing.

5 Reasons Money Does Matter in Farming
• When we decided to get a loan for a reverse osmosis unit for our maple operation it cut my labor in half and saved our marriage.
• I’d like to put profits into a retirement account so that I don’t have to parcel out the farm to support me when I am no longer able to work.
• My kids have seen us struggle to make a living on this farm for 30 years… they have no interest in farming or this place.
• I want to pay people well here and provide them year round work with good benefits.
• Making these money decisions is hard work, I figure that the only way I can justify paying myself well is by doing hard work. When I catch myself doing the things in the greenhouse I remember I can pay someone $10 per hour to do them. I need to focus on other things in order to earn my $30 per hour.

 

 

 

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

 

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