Agritours April 24, 2017

Define your Farm Enterprise Goals and Objectives

Each farm business is different. Before you jump in take a few minutes to define your goals. This will help you refine your business concept. It is also essential to help you communicate with service providers like the bank and extension.

It is often helpful to think about your goals in terms of the ‘triple bottom line’: people, profit and planet. Think about:

  • What are your profit goals? i.e. how much income do you need from the farm?
  • What are your goals for enhancing and/or maintaining your quality of life?
  • Do you have goals of how your farm will maintain or improve the natural resources and environment?
  • Also Read: Drip irrigation components and their functions

Specific questions to consider include:

  • What is your personal goal for your new agricultural business? (I.E. to provide 50% of your income, and contribute positively to my community.)
  • How much do you plan to sell (sales volume)?
  • How many hours do you plan to work?
  • How many people will be working on the farm/ will you have employees?
  • How do you plan to measure customer satisfaction?
  • What is your profit goal?

Each goal must be stated in a quantitative manner that allows you to track progress. You must be able to measure it.

Objectives are specific strategies for reaching goals. A goal may have several objectives and every objective must be measurable. As you define your business you will want to assign responsibility for each objective to individuals within the business.

Researching your new agricultural business

Before you start researching for your new agricultural business, think about your information sources. There is an immense amount of information out there, and especially when we use the internet, not all information is reliable.

Primary and secondary information

One important distinction to consider is the difference between primary and secondary information. Primary information is either research you yourself do or research written by the person or entity that did the study. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal increases the credibility of the information. This means that other experts in that field have examined the research and agree with the methods and conclusions. For example, we get a lot of background information on agricultural trends from the National Agricultural Statistics Service and production information from University scientists.

Secondary research involves looking at information that has been reviewed and interpreted by another individual. This information is often easier to read and more concise. But, keep in mind, the person who read the original research may interpret the research according to their biases.

Internet searches

When you are doing an Internet search there are a few easy ways to filter your information:

  • When you look at a website consider whether it is a (.org), (.edu) or a (.com). In general, (.org) designates a non-profit, (.edu) designates a university. In contrast, (.com) usually designates a business that is more likely to have a stake in convincing you of their information.

Before you start to research, focus on your question. There is an immense amount of information out there. It is easy to get lost as you find more and more information. Write down your question and think carefully about where you might find the answer before you jump on the Internet or the phone.

Laws and regulations for your product or service

Often a good place to start your legal/regulatory search is your local Agricultural office office. Give them a call and see what rules apply to your area or the product that you hope to purvey. Talking to neighboring farmers can also be very helpful. They may already have dealt with your local inspectors and know what issues may come up later.

Here are a few questions to ask of your local officials:

  • Which political jurisdiction has legal authority over your property?
  • If the land is zoned how is it classified?
  • Are farming and direct marketing allowed as permitted uses on the property?
  • How is farm direct marketing classified, as farm or commercial business?
  • Are you subject to “commercial” standards concerning the design of facilities?

If you have employees you must meet consider the following protections and benefits:

  • worker safety, training and educational requirements
  • Wage and hour standards, tax withholding
  • Employee financial protections, unemployment and workers compensation
  • Liability standards for work related activities

If you determine that you have employees follow the steps below:

  • Register employees and obtain a federal tax id number.
  • Register as an employer with the state.
  • Comply with minimum wage and other wage and hour requirements
  • Comply with child labor rules
  • Obtain Workers Compensation
    • Modified from from: http://extension.psu.edu

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