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Writing a Business Plan
While it may be tempting to put off, creating a business plan is an essential part of starting your own business. Plans and proposals should be put in a clear format making it easy for potential investors to understand. Because every company has a different goal and product or service to offer, there are business plan templates readily available to help you get on the right track. Many of these templates can be adapted for any company. In general, a business plan writing guide will recommend that the following sections be incorporated into your plan.
The executive summary is the first section that business plans open with, but is often the last section to actually be written as it’s the most difficult to write. The executive summary is a summary of the overall plan that highlights the key points and gives the reader an idea of what lies ahead in the document. It should include areas such as the business opportunity, target market, marketing and sales strategy, competition, the summary of the financial plan, staff members and a summary of how the plan will be implemented. This section needs to be extremely clear, concise and engaging as you don’t want the reader to push your hard work aside.
The company description follows the executive summary and should cover all the details about the company itself. For example, if you are writing a business plan for an internet café, you would want to include the name of the company, where the café would be located, who the main team members involved are and why, how large the company is, who the target market for the internet cafe is, what type of business structure the café is, such as LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, what the internet café business mission and vision statements are, and what the business’s short-term objectives are.
Services and Products
This is the exciting part of the plan where you get to explain what new and improved services or products you are offering. On top of describing the product or service itself, include in the plan what is currently in the market in this area, what problems there are in this area and how your product is the solution. For example, in a business plan for a food truck, perhaps there are numerous other food trucks in the area, but they are all fast –food style and unhealthy so, you want to introduce fast food that serves only organic and fresh ingredients every day. This is where you can also list your price points and future products or services you anticipate.
The market analysis section will take time to write and research as a lot of effort and research need to go into it. Here is where you have the opportunity to describe what trends are showing up, what the growth rate in this sector looks like, what the current size of this industry is and who your target audience is. A cleaning business plan, for example, may include how this sector has been growing by 10% every year due to an increase in large businesses being built in the city.
Organization and Management
Marketing and sales are the part of the business plan where you explain how you will attract and retain clients. How are you reaching your target customers and what incentives do you offer that will keep them coming back? For a dry cleaner business plan, perhaps if they refer customers, they will get 10% off their next visit. In addition, you may want to explain what needs to be done in order for the business to be profitable. This is a great way of showing that you are conscious about what clear steps need to be taken to make a business successful.
Financial Projections & Appendix
The financial business plan section can be a tricky one to write as it is based on projections. Usually what is included is the short-term projection, which is a year broken down by month and should include start-up permits, equipment, and licenses that are required. This is followed by a three-year projection broken down by year and many often write a five-year projection, but this does not need to be included in the business plan.
The appendix is the last section and contains all the supporting documents and/or required material. This often includes resumes of those involved in the company, letters of reference, product pictures and credit histories. Keep in mind that your business plan is always in development and should be adjusted regularly as your business grows and changes.
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Making a Risk Management Plan for Your Business
It’s impossible to eliminate all business risk. Therefore, it’s essential for having a plan for its management. You’ll be developing one covering compliance, environmental, financial, operational and reputation risk management. These guidelines are for making a risk management plan for your business.
Developing Your Executive Summary
When you start the risk management plan with an executive summary, you’re breaking apart what it will be compromised of into easy to understand chunks. Even though this summary is the project’s high-level overview, the goal is describing the risk management plan’s approach and scope. In doing so, you’re informing all stakeholders regarding what to expect when they’re reviewing these plans so that they can set their expectations appropriately.
Who Are the Stakeholders and What Potential Problems Need Identifying?
During this phase of making the risk management plan, you’re going to need to have a team meeting. Every member of the team must be vocal regarding what they believe could be potential problems or risks. Stakeholders should also be involved in this meeting as well to help you collect ideas regarding what could become a potential risk. All who are participating should look at past projects, what went wrong, what is going wrong in current projects and what everyone hopes to achieve from what they learned from these experiences. During this session, you’ll be creating a sample risk management plan that begins to outline risk management standards and risk management strategies.
Evaluate the Potential Risks Identified
A myriad of internal and external sources can pose as risks including commercial, management and technical, for example. When you’re identifying what these potential risks are and have your list complete, the next step is organizing it according to importance and likelihood. Categorize each risk according to how it could impact your project. For example, does the risk threaten to throw off timelines or budgets? Using a risk breakdown structure is an effective way to help ensure all potential risks are effectively categorized and considered. Use of this risk management plan template keeps everything organized and paints a clear picture of everything you’re identifying.
Assign Ownership and Create Responses
It’s essential to ensure a team member is overseeing each potential risk. That way, they can jump into action should an issue occur. Those who are assigned a risk, as well as the project manager, should work as a team to develop responses before problems arise. That way, if there are issues, the person overseeing the risk can refer to the response that was predetermined.
Have a System for Monitoring
Having effective risk management companies plans includes having a system for monitoring. It’s not wise to develop a security risk management or compliance risk management plan, for example, without having a system for monitoring. What this means is there’s a system for monitoring in place to ensure risk doesn’t occur until the project is finished. In doing so, you’re ensuring no new risks will potentially surface. If one does, like during the IT risk management process, for example, your team will know how to react.
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How to Start a Farm: Plan Your Operation
Think about your operation from the ground up and start planning for your business. A good farm business plan is your roadmap to start-up, profitability, and growth, and provides the foundation for your conversation with USDA about how our programs can complement your operation.
Keep reading about planning your business below or jump to a different section of the farmer's journey.
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Why you need a farm business plan.
A comprehensive business plan is an important first step for any size business, no matter how simple or complex. You should create a strong business plan because it:
- Will help you get organized . It will help you to remember all of the details and make sure you are taking all of the necessary steps.
- Will act as your guide . It will help you to think carefully about why you want to farm or ranch and what you want to achieve in the future. Over time, you can look back at your business plan and determine whether you are achieving your goals.
- Is required to get a loan . In order to get an FSA loan, a guarantee on a loan made by a commercial lender, or a land contract, you need to create a detailed business plan . Lenders look closely at business plans to determine if you can afford to repay the loan.
How USDA Can Help
Whether you need a good get-started guide, have a plan that you would like to verify, or have a plan you’re looking to update for your next growth phase, USDA can help connect you to resources to help your decisions.
Your state's beginning farmer and rancher coordinator can connect you to local resources in your community to help you establish a successful business plan. Reach out to your state's coordinator for one-on-one technical assistance and guidance. They can also connect you with organizations that specifically serve beginning farmers and ranchers.
It is important to know that no single solution fits everyone, and you should research, seek guidance, and make the best decision for your operation according to your own individual priorities.
Build a Farm Business Plan
There are many different styles of business plans. Some are written documents; others may be a set of worksheets that you complete. No matter what format you choose, several key aspects of your operation are important to consider.
Use the guidelines below to draft your business plan. Answering these kinds of questions in detail will help you create and develop your final business plan. Once you have a business plan for your operation, prepare for your visit to a USDA service center. During your visit, we can help you with the necessary steps to register your business and get access to key USDA programs.
Are you starting a new farm or ranch, or are you already in business? If you are already in business:
- What products do you produce?
- What is the size of your operation?
- What agricultural production and financial management training or experience do you, your family members, or your business partners have?
- How long have you been in business?
Mission, Vision, and Goals
This is your business. Defining your mission, vision and goals is crucial to the success of your business. These questions will help provide a basis for developing other aspects of your business plan.
- What values are important to you and the operation as a whole?
- What short- and long-term goals do you have for your operation?
- How do you plan to start, expand, or change your operation?
- What plans do you have to make your operation efficient or more profitable ?
- What type of farm or ranch model (conventional, sustainable, organic, or alternative agricultural practices) do you plan to use?
Organization and Management
Starting your own business is no small feat. You will need to determine how your business will be structured and organized, and who will manage (or help manage) your business. You will need to be able to convey this to others who are involved as well.
- What is the legal structure of your business? Will it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, trust, limited liability company, or other type of entity?
- What help will you need in operating and managing your farm or ranch?
- What other resources, such as a mentor or community-based organization , do you plan to use?
Marketing is a valuable tool for businesses. It can help your businesses increase brand awareness, engagement and sales. It is important to narrow down your target audience and think about what you are providing that others cannot.
- What are you going to produce ?
- Who is your target consumer ?
- Is there demand for what you are planning to produce?
- What is the cost of production?
- How much will you sell it for and when do you expect to see profit ?
- How will you get your product to consumers ? What are the transportation costs and requirements?
- How will you market your products?
- Do you know the relevant federal, state, and local food safety regulations? What licensing do you need for your operation?
Today there are many types of land, tools, and resources to choose from. You will need to think about what you currently have and what you will need to obtain to achieve your goals.
- What resources do you have or will you need for your business?
- Do you already have access to farmland ? If not, do you plan to lease, rent, or purchase land?
- What equipment do you need?
- Is the equipment and real estate that you own or rent adequate to conduct your operation? If not, how do you plan to address those needs?
- Will you be implementing any conservation practices to sustain your operation?
- What types of workers will you need to operate the farm?
- What additional resources do you need?
Now that you have an idea of what you are going to provide and what you will need to run your operation you will need to consider the finances of your operation.
- How will you finance the business?
- What are your current assets (property or investments you own) and liabilities (debts, loans, or payments you owe)?
- Will the income you generate be sufficient to pay your operating expenses, living expenses, and loan payments?
- What other sources of income are available to supplement your business income?
- What business expenses will you incur?
- What family living expenses do you pay?
- What are some potential risks or challenges you foresee for your operation? How will you manage those risks?
- How will you measure the success of your business?
Farm Business Plan Worksheets
These farm business plan worksheets can help gather information for the financial and operational aspects of your plan.
Form FSA-2037 is a template that gathers information on your assets and liabilities like farm equipment, vehicles and existing loans.
- FSA-2037 - Farm Business Plan - Balance Sheet
- FSA-2037 Instructions
Income and Expenses
Form FSA-2038 is part of the farm loan application, and shows you the type of information you should gather when preparing your plan and application materials.
- FSA-2038 - Worksheet Projected Income and Expenses
- FSA-2038 Instructions
Planning for Conservation and Risk Management
Another key tool is a conservation plan, which determines how you want to improve the health of your land. A conservation plan can help you lay out your plan to address resource needs, costs and schedules.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff are available at your local USDA Service Center to help you develop a conservation plan for your land based on your goals. NRCS staff can also help you explore conservation programs and initiatives, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) .
Conservation in Agriculture
Crop insurance, whole farm revenue protection and other resources can help you prepare for unforeseen challenges like natural disasters.
Special Considerations for Businesses
There are different types of farm businesses each with their own unique considerations. Determine what applies to your operation.
- Organic Farming has unique considerations. Learn about organic agriculture , organic certification , and the Organic Certification Cost Share Program to see if an organic business is an option for you. NRCS also has resources for organic producers and offers assistance to develop a conservation plan.
- Urban Farming has special opportunities and restrictions. Learn how USDA can help farmers in urban spaces .
- Value-Added Products . The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) is a national virtual resource center for value-added agricultural groups.
- Cooperative. If you are interested in starting a cooperative, USDA’s Rural Development Agency (RD) has helpful resources to help you begin . State-based Cooperative Development Centers , partially funded by RD, provide technical assistance and education on starting a cooperative.
Special Considerations for Individuals
Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers: We offer help for the unique concerns of producers who meet the USDA definition of "historically underserved," which includes farmers who are:
- socially disadvantaged
- limited resource
- military veterans
Women: Learn about specific incentives, priorities, and set asides for women in agriculture within USDA programs.
Heirs' Property Landowners: If you inherited land without a clear title or documented legal ownership, learn how USDA can help Heirs’ Property Landowners gain access to a variety of programs and services
Creating a good business plan takes time and effort. The following are some key resources for planning your business.
- Farm Answers from the University of Minnesota features a library of how-to resources and guidance, a directory of beginning farmer training programs, and other sources of information in agriculture. The library includes business planning guides such as a Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses and an Example Business Plan .
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers information about starting, managing, and transitioning a business.
SCORE is a nonprofit organization with a network of volunteers who have experience in running and managing businesses. The Score Mentorship Program partners with USDA to provide:
- Free, local support and resources, including business planning help, financial guidance, growth strategies.
- Mentorship through one-on-one business coaching -- in-person, online, and by phone.
- Training from subject matter experts with agribusiness experience.
- Online resources and step-by-step outlines for business strategies.
- Learn more about the program through the Score FAQ .
Attend field days, workshops, courses, or formal education programs to build necessary skills to ensure you can successfully produce your selected farm products and/or services. Many local and regional agricultural organizations, including USDA and Cooperative Extension, offer training to beginning farmers.
- Cooperative Extension offices address common issues faced by agricultural producers, and conduct workshops and educational events for the agricultural community.
- extension.org is an online community for the Cooperative Extension program where you can find publications and ask experts for advice.
Now that you have a basic plan for your farm operation, prepare for your visit to a USDA service center.
2. Visit Your USDA Service Center
How to Start a Farm with USDA
Get an overview of the beginning farmer's journey or jump to a specific page below.
Find Your Local Service Center
USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to ﬁnd your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.
Learn more about our Urban Service Centers . Visit the Risk Management Agency website to ﬁnd a regional or compliance office or to ﬁnd an insurance agent near you.
Farm and Agriculture Business Plans
Did you know each of these plans was created in LivePlan? Learn More
Agri-tourism Business Plans
- Vineyard Bed & Breakfast Business Plan
- Agritourism Business Plan
Agriculture Consulting Business Plans
- Agricultural Consultants Business Plan
Agriculture Products & Retail Business Plans
- Butcher Shop Business Plan
- Feed and Farm Supply Business Plan
- Garden Nursery Business Plan
- Garden Products Recycling Business Plan
- Horse Reseller Business Plan
- Recycling Waste Materials Business Plan
Farm Business Plans
- Agriculture Farm Business Plan
- Agriculture Fruit Farm Business Plan
- Horse Training Business Plan
- Hydroponics Farm Business Plan
- Peach and Apricot Farm Business Plan
- Produce Farm Business Plan
Farm Machinery Business Plans
- Farm Machinery Manufacturer Business Plan
Farming and agriculture are complicated businesses. To be successful, you need more than a green thumb and the willingness to get your hands dirty. You need to know how to operate your agricultural enterprise efficiently and not just forecast your crop rotations, but your cash position and revenue. To do that, you need a business plan.
How can a business plan help your farm or agriculture business?
A good business plan will help your farm or food production business grow. It can improve your chances of receiving government grants or loans, help you manage your business through hard times, and identify additional forms of revenue like tourism or consulting. Most lenders or investors require a business plan before they even consider funding a project. When you add in the numerous elements of running an agricultural business, and the factors like weather and government regulations that are often beyond your control, a business plan becomes an essential tool for effective management, strategic planning and communication across all the key stakeholders in your business.
Find the right agriculture business plan template for your business
If you’re not sure where to begin, check out our farms, food growers, food production facilities, and other agriculture-related sample business plans for inspiration. Or to build a more modern plan that helps you easily manage your agricultural business we recommend you try LivePlan . It contains the same agriculture business plan templates and information you see here, but with additional guidance to help you develop the perfect plan.
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Free Agriculture Sample Business Plan PDF + How to Write
As a farmer, you’re in the business of putting food on the table. Agriculture is one of the world’s oldest professions. Today it accounts for over 5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, and 1 in 10 American workers are in agriculture, food, and related industries.
But starting a new agriculture business requires intensive planning and upfront preparation. If you’re looking for a free, downloadable agriculture sample business plan PDF to help you create a business plan of your own, look no further.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to find a sample business plan that exactly matches your farm. Whether you’re launching a larger agricultural business outside a bustling city or a smaller organic operation, the details will be different, but the foundation of the plan will be the same.
Are you writing a business plan for your farm because you’re seeking a loan? Is your primary concern outlining a clear path for sales growth? Either way, you’re going to want to edit and customize it so it fits your particular farm.
No two agriculture farming businesses are alike. For example, your strategy will be very different if you’re a dairy operation instead of a soybean farm. So take the time to create your own financial forecasts and do enough market research for your specific type of agriculture so you have a solid plan for success.
What should you include in an agriculture farm business plan?
Your agriculture business plan doesn’t need to be hundreds of pages—keep it as short and focused as you can. You’ll probably want to include each of these sections:
1. Executive summary
An overview of your agriculture business, with a brief description of your products or services, your legal structure, and a snapshot of your future plans. While it’s the first part of the plan, it’s often easier to write this section last.
2. Business summary and funding needs
Details about your farming operation, including how much capital you will need and the types of funding you’re considering. Include your business history, your current state, and your future projections. It should also cover your business location, the equipment and facilities needed, and the kinds of crops or livestock you plan to raise.
3. Products and services
Provide details on the types of crops, farming methods, and any value-added products you plan to offer, such as finished goods or even agritourism offerings .
4. Marketing plan
Compile your market research findings, including the demand for your products or services, your target customers, and your competitors. It should also outline your marketing strategy—how you plan to attract and retain customers.
5. Financial plan
Your revenue projections, cost estimates, and break-even analysis. This section should demonstrate that your business has a path to profitability.
Building on your farm business plan sample
With a free agriculture business plan template as your starting point, you can start chipping away at the unique elements of your business plan.
As the business owner, only you can speak to aspects of your agriculture operation like your mission and core values. You’re putting in the long hours to start a thriving farm business, so aspects of your mission – like a commitment to sustainable farming practices – will be best explained in your own words. Authenticity will help you connect with a growing market of consumers who value transparency and environmental stewardship in their food sources.
As for more conventional aspects of business planning, you will want to take on things like your marketing and financial plans one at a time. Here are a few specific areas to focus on when writing your business plan.
Invest time in market research
Starting an agriculture operation requires significant startup costs. When you throw in the unique land use considerations involved, it’s crucial to conduct thorough market research before investing hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars into a farm business.
Start by researching the types of farms operating in your locality and wider region, and the specific crops or livestock they specialize in. You will need to understand seasonal trends, including crop yields and livestock productivity. Note the demographics of the local community to understand their buying habits and preference for local produce. Also, be aware of the competitive landscape and how your farm can differentiate itself from others. All of this information will inform your service, pricing, marketing, and partnership strategy.
From there, you can outline how you plan to reach your target market and promote your farm’s offerings.
Craft your agriculture go-to-market strategy
One of the things that makes an agriculture farm business plan different than some other service-based business plans is that you might decide to only work with one or two businesses that purchase your goods.
You may offer different tiers of products to different types of buyers, such as produce for an organic farmers market, and corn for another farm’s animal feed. If that’s the case, make sure you include ideas like setting aside land for organic growth and maintenance.
Discuss your advertising and promotional strategies, emphasizing channels relevant to your target market. Also, consider how partnerships with local businesses, farmers’ markets, and other industry stakeholders can enhance your visibility.
Include your pricing strategy and any special promotions or loyalty programs. Also, consider public relations and media outreach efforts that can raise awareness about your farm and its sustainable practices.
Prepare for unique farming challenges
Running an agricultural business comes with its own set of challenges, including weather-related disruptions and market volatility. Your business plan should identify these potential risks and present contingency plans to address them.
Include a plan to mitigate weather-related risks, such as crop diversification, employing weather-resistant farming practices, investing in appropriate infrastructure like greenhouses or drainage systems, or taking out insurance to cover weather-related losses.
Detail the operational aspects of your business, including land ownership, employee status, farm maintenance, and safety requirements. Also, illustrate your strategies for managing crop production, livestock care, land stewardship, and regulatory compliance.
Plan for the future
Contingency planning is important in all businesses. But the unique challenges in agriculture of changing market dynamics, regulatory changes, and climate impacts make it especially necessary to plan for the future. Detail how you’ll measure success, and how you will be prepared to adapt your offerings if you need to change the focus of the business due to factors outside your control.
Also, be ready to discuss opportunities for scaling your business over time, such as introducing new crops, expanding farm operations, or opening additional locations.
Get started with your farm business plan sample
There are obviously plenty of reasons farm owners can benefit from writing a business plan — for example, you’ll need one if you’re seeking a loan or investment. Even if you’re not seeking funding, the process of thinking through every aspect of your business will help you make sure you’re not overlooking anything critical as you grow.
Download this agriculture farm sample business plan PDF for free right now, or visit Bplans’ gallery of more than 550 sample business plans if you’re looking for more options.
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Details of a Small Farm Business Plan
- Swarthmore College
- Ohio Wesleyan University
- Brandeis University
- Northeastern University
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- Planting Guides
- Indoor Gardening
Writing a farm business plan can be a tool for you to plan your farming business. It can also be a requirement of securing grants and loans for your farm business. The process of writing a farm business plan may seem overwhelming and intimidating at first, but if you break it down into its component steps, it becomes much more manageable.
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a roadmap for your small farm . It is both process and product. During the writing of a farm business plan, you'll develop an overall vision and mission for your business. You will think about your short- and long-term goals. You'll define the steps needed to achieve those goals. You'll set the direction for your business to develop over the next five years.
If you're already an established business, your new business plan will show where you're going next. A good business plan should be:
Your farm’s mission statement is your overarching purpose for your business:
- Why does your farm exist?
- What purpose does your farm serve?
- Where is your farm headed?
This is beyond “make money.” This mission statement is based on your values and your core identity as a small farm.
The goals in your business plan are the specific, measurable “things” you will achieve with your small farm. Short-term goals are defined as those that you will complete within one year. Long-term goals are those that take longer than one year to complete.
SMART Goals are:
- Rewarding, and have a
In this section of your business plan, take inventory of what you have right now:
- Where are you located?
- How many acres of land are you farming?
- When did you begin farming?
- How are you currently operating?
- What general practices do you use for such things as conservation, tillage, environmental impact, and marketing?
This is where your business plan gets to looking forward. You are going to formulate your farm strategy from now into the next five years or so.
- Gather information and research markets. Make sure that your farm plan fits into the general market in terms of supply and demand. Investigate and analyze industry trends, identify competitors, and define buyers.
- SWOT Analysis. This is an analytical tool that can be used in making decisions. SWOT stands for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. As a business, analyze your internal strengths and weaknesses. Then look externally at what opportunities and threats exist - competitors, new markets, government regulations, economic conditions, and so forth.
- Create alternative strategies. Looking at the information you've gleaned and the analysis you just did, think through options for your farm strategy. Don't rely on price alone; economies of scale are challenging on the small farm level.
- Don't jump to one conclusion immediately. Really spend some time fleshing out the specifics of some of the strategies and looking at their advantages and disadvantages. Try to find options that combine your internal strengths with opportunities in the external environment.
- Look at all your strategies, then reread your mission statement. The ideal farm plan will fit your mission best.
- Write an implementation plan. This is where you write a plan that will make your new strategy happen.
Marketing Strategy and Plan
In the next part of your farm business plan, you develop and outline a marketing strategy for your products and services. This can build on the research you did in the previous step. For each product, include the price, placement, and promotion ideas. Consider how you will convey real and perceived value to your customers.
This part of your business plan details your farm business’ structure. Everyone who is involved in the management of the business should be listed here. External resources are listed here as well.
In this section, you will need to detail the financial aspect of your farming operation. List your current finances in detail, including all income and operating expenses. Referring to your new strategy, you will forecast what is needed for future growth and to meet the goals you have outlined in terms of capital. Include what your future operating expenses will be.
Pulling It All Together
Writing a farm business plan is a big project. Don’t let that put you off. Your plan can be as simple as it needs to be for right now. Begin with your mission statement and goals. Do your homework by analyzing markets and researching competitors and trends. Have fun brainstorming alternative strategies and let them marinate a while. Take it one step at a time.
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Below are examples of different farm business plans and a loan application:
Oregon Flower Farm Business Plan Example
Interval Farm Business Plan Sample
Peach Farm Business Plan Sample
USDA FSA Sample Microloan Application
Small Business Trends
How to create a farm business plan.
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Crafting a comprehensive farm business plan is a crucial step towards transforming your agricultural visions into tangible realities. This plan serves as a blueprint, enabling you to formally articulate your thoughts, ideas, and aspirations. Engaging in this process can lead to profound insights, illuminating the path to a thriving agricultural enterprise.
Even though the term ‘farm business plan’ might evoke a sense of formal rigidity, it’s important to remember that this document is, in fact, a living, evolving entity. Just like a seedling that sprouts, grows, and changes with the seasons, your business plan is not meant to be static.
It’s something you nurture, revise, and expand as circumstances dictate and as your farm business matures. Feeling pressure to perfect your business plan from the outset could be paralyzing. Instead, we suggest you view this document as a foundation that can be continuously built upon.
To get you started, we offer a detailed farm business plan template. This invaluable resource can be tailored and expanded to suit your unique agricultural venture, whether you’re cultivating a sprawling wheat field or nurturing a boutique organic herb garden.
The most effective business plans are those that exhibit flexibility and resilience, characteristics that are at the heart of any successful farm business. Agriculture, by its very nature, is a domain subject to the whims of Mother Nature. From unpredictable weather patterns to seasonal variations, farmers of all kinds grapple with an array of external factors.
Therefore, your farm business plan should not only anticipate these challenges but also prescribe adaptive measures to navigate through them. It’s this inherent adaptability that transforms a good farm business plan into a great one.
Do I Need a Business Plan for My Farm?
Even if you’re knee-deep in the dirt, tending to your crops or livestock, every farming enterprise has the core elements of a business at its heart. These include aspects such as operations, marketing, human resources, and finances. When you embark on developing a farm business plan, it might astonish you to see where the journey takes you. You could end up discovering facets of your farm business that you hadn’t previously considered.
One of the many advantages of constructing your business plan is the opportunity it affords to involve others. Employees, family members, even your loyal farm dog might have innovative small farm business ideas that could significantly enhance your farm’s productivity and marketability. A different perspective can often yield solutions for issues you might not have even been aware of. Therefore, encourage an open exchange of thoughts and ideas. Who knows, the next great idea could be lying right under your hay bale!
More than just a document outlining your farm’s structure, your farm business plan should serve as a valuable decision-making tool. With it, you can confidently navigate the varied terrain of farm management, from daily operations to larger strategic initiatives. When you’ve got a meticulously crafted, robust farm business plan, it doesn’t just narrate your farm’s story, but also provides you with a roadmap to future growth and success.
Beyond this, a top-notch farm business plan can also be a lever that helps you access critical financing. Lenders and investors are more likely to support your venture when they see a well-structured, thoughtful business plan that articulates your vision, illustrates your understanding of the market, and demonstrates your commitment to fiscal responsibility.
So, where to begin? Let’s dive into our fundamental guide to crafting a farm business plan using our adaptable template. This resource has been designed to help you capture every aspect of your agricultural venture, laying a strong foundation for a bountiful future.
Writing a Farm Business Plan Template: 15+ Things Entrepreneurs Should Include
A farm business plan, like any strategic document, should be comprehensive, encompassing all aspects of your operation, be it agricultural (crops) or product-based. Utilize these 15 key sections to shape your farm business plan template.
Do bear in mind that while these sections are integral, they are by no means exhaustive. Your farm business plan may necessitate additional topics based on your specific farming operations.
Creating a robust business plan is of paramount importance, whether you’re kickstarting a farm venture or acquiring an existing one. Our farm business plan template starts off with an executive summary.
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary provides an essential overview of your farm business. It helps to streamline communication and understanding between various stakeholders, such as internal team members, potential lenders, business partners, and customers. When drafting your executive summary, consider the following key components:
- Business Profile : Provide a snapshot of your farm business, describing its nature and scope. Are you into crop cultivation, livestock rearing, or any specialized farming practices?
- Products : Clearly outline what product or products your farm will produce. These could range from dairy products to specific crops or even services like agrotourism.
- Production Methodology : Describe how you plan to achieve your production goals. This could involve discussing your farming techniques, usage of technology, or unique methodologies.
- Target Audience : Identify the individuals or groups who will be interested in your farm products or services. These might be local consumers, restaurants, farmers’ markets, or even online customers.
- Key Strategies : Highlight the strategies you plan to implement to run and grow your business. This could cover marketing techniques, sustainability practices, or partnerships.
- Mission and Vision : Briefly outline the mission and vision of your farm business. This helps to convey your long-term objectives and core values.
Remember, your executive summary is essentially the first impression of your business plan. Making it comprehensive, clear, and compelling will help attract interest and support from stakeholders.
2. Goals and Objectives
A well-crafted business plan should encapsulate both personal and economic goals and objectives. Many successful farm business plans also address environmental stewardship and community outreach. You may want to include goals around preserving farm resources for future generations, ensuring that both the operational and stewardship aspects remain within the family.
Your introduction should provide information about the business owners, including their backgrounds and levels of industry experience.
4. Mission Statement and Values of Your Farming Business Plan
This section enables you to express the core values that led you to the farming business, whether it’s an urban farming venture or a homemade product-based farm. Your mission statement should reflect these values. Sustainable practices and conservation are often key motivations that draw people to farming, so don’t be shy to share your commitment to such principles.
5. Industry History
Understanding your place within the wider agricultural landscape is key. Be sure to research farms that have historically dominated your region, whether they specialize in vineyards, urban farming, or livestock rearing. Use this research to make educated projections about the future.
6. Company Background and History
Share the history of your farm if it has been a long-standing family venture or the journey leading up to your purchase if it wasn’t. If your farm business is a startup, focus on the business experience and backgrounds of the involved parties.
7. Competitor Analysis
Understanding your competition is crucial. In the agricultural sector, farmers often share resources, such as a high-tech corn planter , or cooperate in marketing endeavors. Factor in such synergies when analyzing competitors.
8. Target Market
Clearly define your target market. This can include area groceries, farmers’ markets, or online customers. If you’ll be relying on online sales, ensure your website is professionally designed, keyword optimized, and easily discoverable.
9. Products and Services
Describe each product or service offered by your farm, highlighting those features most appealing to your target market.
10. Organization, Human Resources, and Management Plans
These interconnected elements cover your farm’s day-to-day operations, employee roles and responsibilities (including their job descriptions ), and overarching management plans.
11. SWOT Analysis
Conduct a SWOT analysis to identify your farm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will help you strategize on how to leverage your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and neutralize threats.
Your vision is the roadmap for your farm’s future. It should express not just your financial aspirations but also your plans for the farm operation in the long run.
13. Growth Strategy
A comprehensive growth strategy should outline your plans for debt reduction, savings, and business expansion. Keeping detailed farm production records is key to evaluating the effectiveness of your growth strategy.
14. Financial Plan
Your financial plan should include elements like balance sheets, income statements, projected cash flows, loan repayment schedules, and depreciation factors.
15. Marketing Strategy
A robust marketing strategy is essential for your farm’s success. Look into brochures, advertisements, and joining co-op groups. Resources from institutions like the University of Minnesota and Cornell University offer comprehensive insights into effective marketing strategies for farm businesses.
How Do I Write a Small Farm Business Plan?
Don’t sit down to write the whole thing. Chip away, one section at a time. Keep in mind that the plan doesn’t have to be the definitive last word. You can make adaptations.
How do you start a farm business plan?
Start with one piece of the business plan. One of the hardest sections of a business plan to write is the Mission Statement . If you get bogged down there, continue and come back to it later.
How much do farm owners make a year?
As you can imagine, the net income varies greatly by type of farm business.
The bottom line after expenses may not be high. Farmers need to consider net worth as assets grow and the farm property increases in value.
How much does it cost to start a small farm?
Getting set up to raise 100 beef cattle costs lots more than getting set up to raise 100 rabbits.
Things like property acquisition, soil preparation, equipment and machinery and the key costs. Other costs may be i rrigation systems , packaging and trucking.
What is the most profitable farming business?
Poultry farming is currently the most profitable – and common – farm business in the world. It includes chicken, turkey, quail, ducks and goose, that are being raised for meat or eggs.
It’s also one of the most expensive businesses to start, requiring significant capital investment. The industry is very labor-intensive and labor costs are high.
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Agriculture business plan.
If there is one sector that is always thriving, regardless of the economic environment of the country, it is Agriculture. After all, food is one of the basic necessities of human beings for survival. So the agricultural sector is considered to be the prime sector for any nation. More so in a country like India which is known as an agricultural country because farming is the backbone of the Indian economy.
The importance of agriculture in India:
- More than 60% to 70% of the Indian population is dependent on agriculture and its allied activities for their livelihood
- The agricultural sector provides employment to more than 52% of total labour of the country
- The contribution of agriculture to India’s total GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is between 14% to 15%.
Hence, it goes without saying that agriculture can potentially be a feasible business idea in India. Also known as Agribusiness, an agricultural business includes farming, production, marketing and management of agricultural commodities like grains, vegetables, fruits, and livestock. From a broader perspective, an agribusiness also consists of resource management, conservation, ranching and sales of the agricultural produce.
The main causes of a surge in the Agribusiness in the past few years:
- With the consistent rise of E-commerce, home delivery grocery stores have created an opportunity for agriculture enthusiasts to start their own farms with the help of agriculture experts
- The ever growing population has increased the demand for food produce
- Start ups have come up with the innovative idea of growing organic produce in terraces and balconies of homes
- The growing awareness and popularity of high quality organic farm produce that sells at high value in the market.
The agriculture business can be predominantly categorised into three main sectors mentioned below:
- Production resources , which include seed, feed, fertilizer, energy, equipment, machinery and the likes
- Agricultural commodities like raw or processed items of food and fibre
- Facilitative services like insurance, marketing, credit, processing, storage, packaging, transportation, etc.
However, just like any other business, starting an agricultural business also needs systematic planning and strategising in order to achieve the desired goals.
A Step by Step guide on drafting an Agribusiness business:
Step1 – Decide which, amongst the below, agriculture business idea suits you the most:
- Urban agriculture, which means practicing agriculture in urban areas and its surrounding regions.
- Herb, fruit or vegetable farming
- Production of Botanical pesticide
- Organic gardening
- Field crop farming
- Distribution of fertilisers
- Dairy farming
- Poultry farming
Step 2 – Obtain the chosen farming land’s proof of ownership or lease agreement and secure a farm map which includes farm boundaries and watering points.
Step 3 – Research and identify the potential markets and its requirements to cater to.
Step 4 – Take into account your expertise, ability, knowledge and access to professional assistance before finalising the commodity for your business plan.
Step 5 – Calculate the short term as well as long term economic potential, viability and future opportunities of the chosen commodities and source information accordingly.
Step 6 – Once you have zeroed in on the commodities, the next logical step would be to identify resources that need to be obtained to manufacture your chosen commodities.
Step 7 – Once you have finalised the agribusiness sector of your choice, you will have to get your business registered with its chosen operational name.
Step 8 – Arguably the most vital step in starting any new business is arranging the required finances from a reliable source to ensure smooth operations of the business.
Agriculture loans in India:
An agribusiness loan is nothing but an overdraft facility that can be used as working capital for activities related to agriculture like farming and cultivation. Agricultural loans in India are usually low interest loans that can be availed by farmers. The repayment tenure of an agricultural loan differs from lender to lender. The loan can be repaid in monthly, half yearly or yearly instalments.
Uses of Agribusiness loans:
- Purchasing farming and irrigation equipment
- Buying cattle and livestock
- Purchase land for agricultural activities
- Storage and warehousing expenses
- Marketing expenses
- Transportation costs
- Managing day to day operations.
Sources of Agribusiness loans:
In India, financial institutions like government and private banks, co-operative societies and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC) like Lendingkart provide convenient agribusiness loans.
Benefits of Agribusiness loans from Lendingkart :
- Convenient and flexible loan
- Simplified documentation
- Easy loan repayment terms as per the borrower’s income
- Zero hidden costs
- Attractive interest rates
- Fast processing
Eligibility criteria for an Agriculture Loan:
- Applicant should be between 18 – 70 years old.
- Applicant should utilise the loan for cultivation of agricultural land
Documents required to avail an Agriculture Loan:
- ID proof – PAN card/Aadhar card/Ration card/Driving license/Voter ID
- Address proof – Bank statement/No more than 3 months old utility bill/Ration card/Driving license/Passport
- Land ownership proof.
Agriculture Business Plan FAQs:
1. how do i start an agriculture business, 2. which agriculture business is most profitable, 3. what are the most common agribusinesses prevalent in the country for which loans are required, 4. what are the main agriculture business categories, one can invest in, 5. who is eligible to apply for an agriculture loan in india, 6. who can be categorised as small and marginal farmers and what are the new start-ups that they are into, 7. what are the associate activities for which one can avail an agriculture loan, 8. what is the amount of security against which an agriculture loan can be availed, 9. what is a step by step procedure to initiate a new start up agribusiness, 10. can women avail agriculture loans in india, 11. who can be categorised as small and marginal farmers, 12. how to start an agriculture loan application process, 13. what is the online application process for agriculture loans.
Writing a business plan
Farms that write a formal long-term business plan are more profitable than those that don’t..
Writing your ambitions down is one of the most successful ways to visualise what you want to do and so make it happen. However, only 19% of farmers have a written business plan.
Without a goal or ambition, you will not know if you have achieved what you are working towards. By sitting down with business partners and family members, you can discuss what each other wants to achieve (financial and non-financial) and ensure your aspirations are aligned. Writing them down as a more formal business plan will then help you communicate your strategy, make decisions and achieve your goals.
Business planning webinar
In March 2019, AHDB ran a webinar focussing on a bank manager's view of a business plan, which covered:
- How a business plan communicates the way forward for partners, advisers and technical specialists
- When should a business plan be prepared
- What are the basics that the business plan needs to cover
- Possible risks that could be encountered and the use of sensitivity analysis
- The importance of monitoring performance against the plan
Watch a recording of the webinar below:
In this section
- What is a business plan?
Why should you write one and what should you include?
- Introducing your business
Explaining your business vision, mission and objectives
- Market analysis
- Financial information
- Sales and operations
- Funding requirements
- HR structure
- Executive summary
Making changes to your business
- Talking things through
Plan against the risks which could affect your business
Your personal goals are just as important as your business goals
Brexit impact calculator
Investigate the potential impact that Brexit will have on your farming business
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Farm Business Planning
Farm Business Planning is key to beginning farmer success.
It helps beginning farmers :
- Plan for the economic sustainability of a new farm enterprise.
- Obtain funding to purchase land, equipment and other resources from lending institutions, investors and/or grant making agencies.
- Articulate what their farm will look like.
On this page, we compiled free farm business planning resources to help you understand what a formal business plan is, and how to start planning your farm business. Sections include:
- Developing a Farm Business Plan
- Enterprise Budgeting
Enterprise budget resources are included on the farm business planning page because such tools are usually essential in helping you to develop your business plan.
Planning your farm business involves more than is outlined on this page alone. You’ll probably also be interested in funding (loans/grants) , farm incorporation , and risk management . Our starting a farm page is worth visiting first. Also, you might find the following article helpful, because it touches on many farm business planning topics: Farm Products, What to Charge: Marketing, Price, Calculating Costs, Strategy and Much More .
1. Developing a Farm Business Plan
A business plan is a decision making tool that takes the form of a formal document. It states your business goals, why you think you can achieve them, and lays out your plan for doing so. Farm business planning is also a process, not an end product. A business plan is a work in progress, which farm business owners or operators will want to revisit regularly.
Planning and Funding Your Farm Business from the Cornell University Small Farms Project has lots of important and useful farm business planning resources.
Rural Businesses is a web and print publication from the Minnesota institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA).
Building a Business Plan for Your Farm: Important First Steps is a 20 page farm business planning publication that discusses the initial steps to help you move toward writing a formal business plan.
The Center for Agroecology has a Small Farm Business Planning publication that goes over many of the basics in a step by step format.
Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses is a farm business planning publication available from SARE.
Do I need a Business Plan for my Farm? is a web resource from the New England Small Farm Institute. It’s a great place to get started.
AgPlan from the University of Minnesota helps rural business owners develop a business plan for free, while also offering sample business plans for ideas, and a way to print or download your plan.
Developing a Farm Business Plan includes several helpful resources from the USDA National Agricultural Library’s Rural Information Center.
Organic Farm Business Planning Page from North Carolina State University features a number of publications and links related to financial planing for organic farmers.
Agricultural Business Planning Templates and Resources is an ATTRA publication most relevant to smaller-scale or alternative agricultural entrepreneurs.
Beginning Farmer and Rancher Resources offers comprehensive resources on Bookkeeping and Other Basics ; Cash Flow Budgeting and Managing Debt ; Small Farm and Ranch Income Taxes , and more.
Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business has educational resources to explore, such as the New Ventures in Food and Agriculture in Indiana , which offers business planning assistance.
Purdue University Cooperative Extension offers strategic farm business planning tools for commercial farm producers.
Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences has many Business Planning tools and information. Penn State Cooperative Extension has a Developing a Business Plan page. Penn State also has a Farm Business Plan Template that allows you to plug in your information and create a basic business plan.
The U.S. Small Business Administration works with local partners to counsel, mentor and train small businesses. It is worth getting to know their programs and connect with your local office.
The Martindale Center Reference Desk has an extensive compilation of links to calculators, applets, spreadsheets, courses, manuals, handbooks, simulations, animations, videos and more. Martindale’s Agriculture Center can be of great use to farmers making business plans.
2. Enterprise Budgets
Enterprise budgets project costs and returns for a particular farm production practice. You can use enterprise budgets to make smart business management decisions, and to help you develop a viable business plan.
Enterprise Budgeting Tools of all sorts from the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, including organic crop budgeting tools, many vegetable budgeting tools, the crop conversion tool for side-by-side crop comparisons, specialty crop and livestock budgets, hydroponics budgets, wind calculators, composting calculators, manure calculators, distillers grain budgets, biomass calculators and specialty foods calculators.
Introduction to Farm Planning Budgets for New and Beginning Farmers (Virginia Tech)
Importance and Use of Enterprise Budgets in Agriculture (University of Nevada)
Enterprise Budgeting (Kerr Center)
Organic Specific Enterprise Budgets
- Enterprise Budgets and Production Costs for Organic Production (ATTRA)
- Organic Crop Production Enterprise Budgets and Information (Iowa State)
- Organic Enterprise Budget (Kansas Rural Center)
More Enterprise Budget Pages and Information
- Enterprise Budgets List (Virginia Cooperative Extension)
- Dairy Sheep Enterprise Budget (Center for Integrated Ag Systems, UW-Madison)
- Crop Budgets (University of Maryland)
- Farm Management Enterprise Budgets (Ohio State)
- Alabama Enterprise Budget Summaries (Alabama A&M and Auburn)
- Start developing your business plan with the resources at https://www.beginningfarmers.org/farm-business-planning/
- You can find more gr eat farming resources at https://www.beginningfarmers.org/additional-farming-resources/
12: Business Plans
What is a business plan.
A business plan is a document that helps you to organize and succinctly summarize the vision you have for your business. The plan contains the operational and financial objectives of a business, the detailed plans and budgets showing how the objectives are to be realized.
A good business plan will contain the following:
- Your business vision, mission statement, key values, and goals
- Description of the product(s) you intend to produce
- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats the business may experience are described
- Production plans
- Marketing plans
- Estimated start-up costs
- Information on your legal structure and management team
- Current financial statements or projected financial statements.
- Resume or brief explanation of your background and relevant experience
- Less than 10 total pages so that people actually read it
Helpful Publications for Writing a Business Plan
General Business Resource Publications:
- Starting an Ag-Business? A Pre-Planning Guide http://publications.dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extensionpdf/2004/Cornell_AEM_eb0408.pdf
- Business Transfer Guide: Junior Generation http://publications.dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extensionpdf/2016/Cornell-Dyson-eb1605.pdf
- Producing a Business Plan for Value-Added Agriculture http://publications.dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extensionpdf/2007/Cornell_AEM_eb0708.pdf
- Business Planning for the Agriculture Sector: A Guide to Business Plan Development for Start-up to Mid-size Operations http://publications.dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extensionpdf/2010/Cornell_ pdf
- Building a Sustainable Business (Sustainable Agricultural Research Education (SARE)Publications) sare.org/publications/business.htm 280 pages of education and practical exercises to guide you through the financial, management, and interpersonal skills needed to start a successful farm business. Order hard copy for $17 or download PDF online for free.
Cornell Cooperative Extension Publications for Specific Commodities:
- Landscape Business Planning Guide http://publications.dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extensionpdf/2003/Cornell_AEM_eb0313.pdf
- Writing a Business Plan: A Guide for Small Premium Wineries http://publications.dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extensionpdf/2002/Cornell_AEM_eb0206.pdf
- Writing a Business Plan: An Example for a Small Premium Winery https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/122203/2/Cornell_AEM_eb0207.pdf
Getting Help Writing a Business Plan
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Horizon Farm Credit
How to write a farm business plan proposal.
Getting a loan for your agricultural business, no matter the size or scope, means asking the lender to have faith in your ability to manage a full-fledged operation and your finances in a healthy way. The best way to prove that is by coming prepared with a farm business plan proposal.
No pressure, right?
Do I have to create a farming business plan?
You can set yourself up for success - both in business and with your lender - by having a detailed business plan for your farming operation. It doesn't need to be pretty, but you do have to prove that you're willing to put the time and effort into creating a well thought out course of action for your operation.
Already operating but don't have a plan? That's okay! It's never too late to put extra thought into how your operation will continue to fulfill your livelihood.
What to Include in your Agricultural Business Plan
Whether you're a new farmer looking for a loan , or a seasoned grower that needs funding for a new agribusiness , there are a few things that you want to make sure you include in your agricultural business plan.
TITLE/ COVER PAGE
Keep it simple on the cover page. The most important information here is accurate contact information so your lender can get in touch with you easily. Include mailing address, phone, email, and fax if you have it.
- Your company’s logo
- Name of business, address, contact information
Although it will be the first page of your farm plan, this will be the last section that you write, since it acts as a summary of all your key points in your plan. Remember that this is the first section that your lender will read , so they’ll expect to see all of the highlights that make approving this loan a good financial decision for both you and the lending organization. Include points about expansion plans, market opportunities, financial trends and projections in a short and easy to read summary.
Treat this section as if you’re telling a stranger about your operation and you want to give them an overview of what you do and what sets you apart from other businesses in your industry.
- Brief description of the operation including what you do, what you produce, how you market it, and the size of the operation.
- Locations and facilities
- Mission Statement
- Plan Summary and Capital Request – if you’re starting a new operation, include a plan summary that describes how you’ll start the operation and the course of action you’ll take to build it.
In this part of your farming business plan, you'll touch on your products and services, and any measures you have in place for quality and compliance.
- Products and/or services and their corresponding systems
- Production practices, value-added practices
- Policies on quality control, inventory management and customer service
- Risk Management
- Licenses, permits and regulatory requirements
- Goals for production growth, expansion, etc.
For some people, this can be the most fun or the most challenging part of creating your small farm business plan. Before thinking about your tactics, think about the research you need to do to inform those decisions.
- Industry description, outlook, trends and projections
- Target market information
- Market share to gain
- Promotions, programs and marketing tools
Check out our blog on how to create a marketing plan for your farm and download a free template!
ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT
This section talks about how you're going to structure your farm and your plan for hiring help.
- How your business is organized (corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc.)
- Names, titles, positions of owners, managers, directors, etc.
- Organizational chart or Personnel plan – who facilitates which roles and potential new hires
- Benefits offered, rewards structure, etc.
- Contingency Plan
FINANCES (LEARN MORE HERE)
Arguably the most important part of your agricultural business plan is how you are going to finance your operation. In this section, make sure to include:
- Income earning potential, plans for growth, expansion, industry trends
- Historical performance
- Balance sheet, cash-basis income trend, breakeven analysis, and sensitivity analysis
- Asset management
- Capital Request
Creating your own farm business plan will take time and effort. As you complete sections, send them to partners or colleagues to review as you go along. If you have any questions on farm business plan examples or more specifically what loan officer’s are looking for, give us a call .
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO HELP YOU WRITE YOUR FARM BUSINESS PLAN
- University of Maryland Extension Farm Business Planning Workbook
- SCORE Small Business Resources
- Penn State Extension “Starting a New Ag Business”
- Penn State Extension “Example Business Plan”
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