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Whole Farm Resource Inventory

Whole Farm Resource Inventory


When considering a new venture, it is important to look at the entire picture – the whole farm.  The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service has compiled a helpful resource for Evaluating a Rural Enterprise, which includes an assessment of the resources that you have available.  Check out http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/evalrural.html#evalres

Operating Environment

How "farm friendly" is your area?  Take this online test and see.  More importantly, look at the issues included in the questions on this test, and consider them for your particular area.  Remember, your new farming enterprise will both affect and be affected by its environment.  Go to http://cecf1.unh.edu/sustainable/farmfrnd.cfm.  

Physical Resources

How much land do you own?  Do you have any equipment?  What about water, shelter, and storage buildings?  Use the Whole-Farm Resource Guide to help assess your inventory of physical resources.  (MS Word or PDF)

Personal Skills

What are the characteristics you posess that will make you a successful farm manager?  What traits do you have that might inhibit you from doing well with direct marketing, customer interface, or dealing with a lot of stress?  Complete the New England Small Farm Institute's "Small Scale, Sustainable Farmer Skill Self-Assessment Tool" to better understand how prepared you are to perform the duties and tasks involved in farm management, identify areas where you should pursue additional training, and prepare you to be able to prioritize your needs.  Click here to download the Self-Assessment.

Business Management

There are lots of important decisions to be made regarding business managment.  For example, how will you structure your business – sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, LLC…?  For another example, how will you finance the initial capital outlay or expansions you may consider? 

The following resources include tools that will help you know what questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether or not an idea is feasible, and they also include tools that will help you come up with answers to those questions. 

  1. Agricultural Alternatives - An array of activities exist.  Finding the one that most suits you and your situation is the challenge.  Check out http://agalternatives.aers.psu.edu/Default.asp for a sketch on a wide range of livestock and crop enterprises. 
  2. Business Structure – Definitions (PDF) and NC Guidelines 
  3. Financial Considerations – For planning resources, funding and program assistance, disaster assistance, and other resources:  http://www.nal.usda.gov/ric/ricpubs/small_farm_funding.htm
  4. Marketing Options - Your personal and professional preferences will guide the type of marketing that you choose.  Go to http://attra.ncat.org/marketing.html for publications on marketing, business, and risk management.  For a specific tool to determine if wholesale or direct marketing for you, check out the Questionnaire.  (MS Word or PDF)


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