Articles, fact sheets, tools, links, and other farm financial and business management resources.
Topics include information about accessing capital and credit, business structure, developing business plans, financial record-keeping, employment and labor considerations.
Building a Sustainable Business, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA): Comprehensive, farmer-oriented guide to developing a business plan for farms and food businesses. This manual is used in the UVM Extension "Building a Sustainable Business" class. Free PDF download, includes fillable PDF forms.
The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook -- A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops and Staff and Making a Profit, Richard Wiswall, published by Chelsea Green Books: Originally written for organic vegetable farmers by a longtime Vt. farmer. This book is not specifically about writing a business plan but rather managing a successful business and covers all the fundamentals needed for a business plan. Includes CD with cash flow spreadsheets, crop budgets, and more.
AgPlan, Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota: AgPlan is a set of free online tools and resources designed to help rural business owners develop a business plan. It includes a type editor in which to write your plan. Tips resources and samples help guide, and tools to allow plan sharing to obtain feedback from advisors, educators and consultants.
AgSquared: Fee-based ($60/year as of Sept. 2020). Online software toolkit built for small diversified farms. Create a farm plan at the beginning of the season, manage that plan, and stay on track as the season progresses.
INVenture, Agricultural Innovation & Commercialization Center at Purdue University: Online business planning tool designed to help launch new ventures.
Northeast Beginning Farmers Project New Farmer Hub, Cornell University: Tutorials, videos and links to help develop farm plans. Resources geared for beginning farmers in New York and throughout the Northeast, and complement the resources offered by the UVM Extension New Farmer Project.
One Page Business Plan, Farm Credit East: Quick way to get started, linking farming goals with specific steps to move toward those goals. Planning eventually gets more detailed with a complete business plan. Farm Credit’s One Page Suite of business planning tools provides the tools for that next step of mapping out the business side of a farm operation.
Employment and Labor
These resources relate to employment, labor and health insurance on farms and agricultural businesses. Some resources are specific to Vermont but many are relevant to small- and medium-sized operations across the U.S.
Classifying Workers on Vermont Farms, Erin Hannum and Rachel Armstrong, Farm Commons: What’s the difference between an employee and an intern or volunteer under the law? What is an independent contractor? This guide helps farmers identify the kind of workers they have, and the legal implications of each.
Hiring a Farm Employee in Vermont, Erin Hannum and Rachel Armstrong, Farm Commons: This publication and checklist guides farmers in the initial steps necessary to hire an employee. It illustrates selected, immediate paperwork responsibilities of the farmer at the time of hiring. It also identifies some of the ongoing record keeping, withholding, payment and other legal responsibilities of having employees, and where farmers can get help.
Managing Risks of Interns and Volunteers in Vermont, Erin Hannum and Rachel Armstrong, Farm Commons: Explains laws related to intern and volunteer work arrangements, provides insights and strategies to help farmers reduce liability risks related to interns and volunteers.
Sample Checklist for New Employee Orientation: Topics to include in any new employee orientation.
The Farm Labor Dashboard: Set of interactive online tools and informational resources to help small- and medium-sized farms effectively recruit, hire, train and retain workers, including:
- The Labor Readiness Self Assessment: Identify strengths as an employer, and offer resources to help address management weaknesses.
- The Employee Cost Estimator: Estimate the total cost of employees, including wages, federal and state payroll taxes, workers compensation, unemployment taxes and any benefits offered beyond wages. Use it to see how different scenarios – wages offered, number of employees and hours and days worked – affect labor expenses.
- The Job Description Generator: Produce professional job descriptions that can help farm managers more effectively recruit and manage employees.
- The Personnel Policy Generator: Guides user through the process of a farm policy manual, providing example language to adopt or easily modify to reflect specific farm situations.
U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheets
- Fact Sheet # 12: Agricultural Employers Under the Fair Labor Standards Act. General information about minimum wage, overtime, record-keeping and child labor standards as they apply to farm employment.
- Fact Sheet # 40: Federal Youth Employment Laws in Farm Jobs. This fact sheet explains standards for employing youth in agricultural work, which are different from those for nonfarm jobs. Also refer to the Agricultural Employers Pocket Guide on Youth Employment brochure which outlines various youth employment provisions based on the age of the employee.
- Fact Sheet # 49: The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. This fact sheet describes requirements for hiring migrant and seasonal agricultural workers.
- The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet webpage: Information about employment law and regulations that apply to farm and non-farm employers.
Spreadsheets and Workbooks
AgSquared: Fee-based ($60/year as of Sept. 2020) online software toolkit built for small diversified farms. Create a farm plan at the beginning of the season, manage that plan, and stay on track as the season progresses.
UVM Extension Farm Viability Resource Library: Spreadsheets and financial workbooks for a variety different farm enterprises including maple, eggs, broiler chickens, vegetables and livestock farms. Also includes price and break-even calculators.