A workshop on how to grow your farm and ranching business will be held Feb. 2-3 in Cortez at the Empire Electric conference room.
The event is free, but pre-registration is required. Sign up at guidestonecolorado.org for details.
On the first day, the agenda includes business planning, a producer-resource panel, and resource inventory and self assessment. On the second day, the topics are business action planning, scaling up wholesale success, a markets-resource panel and personal action planning and resource network developments.
This workshop is ideal for aspiring farmers and ranchers who are exploring the possibility of starting or expanding an agricultural business. Participants undergo an in-depth exploration of their own vision and the core competencies and resources needed to support that vision. This course examines current trends, resources, case studies, and stories from experienced producers while digging into a framework to begin strategic business planning.
The conference ins hosted by Guidestone Colorado, the Colorado Tourism Office, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and Southwest Farm Fresh of Mancos.
“The goal is to improve small to medium-scale farm and ranch operations,” said Southwest Farm Fresh board president Laurie Hall. “Participants will learn from experienced producers who successfully scaled up their operations.”
Information will be provided on long range planning, farming efficiencies and overcoming obstacles that are preventing expanded production, she said. Recognizing and acting on untapped agricultural markets is another opportunity.
“For example, right now the poultry market is wide open,” Hall said. “Raising chickens commercially has more manageable regulations than cattle and pigs, and there is a big demand for locally raised birds and eggs. We want to capitalize on the national movement of producing healthy food that is locally grown and raised.”
She said local demand is increasing and the Southwest Farm Fresh cooperative is looking for more growers for wholesale and direct sales.
Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, these workshops also aim to support and enhance the success of the next generation of farmers and ranchers in southern Colorado.
This three-year initiative will develop a coordinated education and mentorship program to help train early farmers and prepare them to enter emerging wholesale and agritourism markets.
“Beginning producers in rural and remote areas often have limited marketing options available to them,” said Dan Hobbs, cooperative specialist at the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “That’s why this multiyear cooperative project is so important – to facilitate new choices, opportunities and resources for family farmers throughout southern Colorado.”
According to the USDA statistics, the number of young people entering farming continues to decline, but the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 rises, as does the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide. Ensuring there will be a “new generation” of beginning farmers and ranchers, regardless of age, or production is especially important to the continuation of agricultural production in the United States. For more information visit the USDA beginning farmer and rancher program website.