One of our main goals for the Visit Iowa Farms Program, and all of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is to help connect your needs with Iowa State University research and resources to help you make sound business decisions. The Visit Iowa Farms Program is a project of ISU Extension and Outreach Value Added Agriculture Program. The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) is also housed under the ISU Extension and Outreach Value Added Agriculture Program umbrella. AgMRC is a national information resource on value added agriculture and has a wealth of resources that are useful to your farm and agritourism businesses. Here are a few of our favorites:
Whether you are just starting your business, or have been operating for years, you are sure to learn something new from AgMRC’s business development sections. With sections focused on Getting Prepared, Starting a Business, Operating a Business, and Business Strategy and Analysis, there is something for everyone no matter the current stage of your business. AgMRC’s Business Workbench also has links to easy-to-use business and analysis worksheets and calculators to help navigate and understand useful business tools and financial reports.
Have you ever wondered what to charge for your fruits and vegetables grown on your farm? The USDA Fruit and Vegetable Market Reports is a brand new feature just released last week on the AgMRC website! Weekly, the USDA releases Specialty Crop Market News that survey more than 500 retailers, comprising of over 29,000 individual stores. Information represents advertised prices for fruits and vegetables. These include fruits and vegetables that are marketed organic and local. You are able to segment products down by region, commodity, variety, and unit. This tool can be used as one consideration when setting your price for products. AgMRC outlines other pricing considerations in this resource: Setting Your Price.
Budgeting worksheets and calculators are useful tools for making projections for future income and expenses for various enterprises. AgMRC has a list of over 40 different value added agriculture enterprise budgets that could be your next business venture! There is also a crop conversion calculator that allows you to easily do a side-by-side comparison of different crops on your farm using your own numbers.
Applying for grants can be a great way to help fund business plans, feasibility studies, working capital, and start-up costs. Grants are not “free money” and receiving a grant is not the end of the process, but often the beginning. AgMRC has a variety of resources to know how to use grants, introduction to grant writing, and funding sources.
- Shannon Hoyle, Program Assistant