Barn raising

Workshop for agricultural business planning

Marie Gibson has extensive experience with ranching, business, animal science and agricultural economics.

Marie Gibson has extensive experience with ranching, business, animal science and agricultural economics.

Photo/Sage Leehey

To register for the workshop, visit Register by Saturday for a reduced price of $35. It will be $45 after March 15.

Small farms and ranches are sprinkled all over northern Nevada. Some keep their products for their families, some sell to restaurants, some sell to farmers’ markets—there are about as many different business plans as there are farms.

If you’re looking to get that plan drawn out, the University of Nevada, Reno’s Center for Economic Development is hosting an Agricultural Business Plan Development workshop on March 22 at Western Nevada College’s Fallon campus. It’s from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and participants will leave with their new business plan in hand.

Marie Gibson is the speaker and will be working hands-on with participants to get their plan nailed down. Additional goals will be assigned weekly for four weeks after the workshop to make sure the plan is complete.

“You don’t just sit and listen to me yada yada—I’m good at yada yada—but it’s a class where we have workbooks, and we actually work through worksheets, budgets, all kinds of marketing ideas, we work through a lot,” Gibson said. “It’s a full day of intense planning, so they better come prepared to be tired.”

The workshop is meant for new farmers and existing farmers who want to expand or change up their style. It will be customized to fit the needs of those who attend. She wants to show farmers they can make a profit and the different options they have for selling their products.

“What are your options to sell something?” Gibson said. “Where are you going to sell it? We’ll explore those. Some farmers haven’t even really zeroed in on who they want to be when they grow up. What does it look like for them? What’s their vision? Do they want to stay small? Do they want to grow large? Do they want to have what’s called agritourism, where people come to their farms? Is their purpose to specifically be an organic farm? Is it just to provide food for themselves and for a few close friends? Is it where they actually want to make money? Do they know how much that is?”

Gibson helps farmers develop business plans often and has come across two common obstacles in this process. One of these is that hobby farmers don’t seem to think it’s right for them to make a profit.

“It’s OK to make money off of something you enjoy doing,” Gibson said. “We always think farming is this great, esoteric thing and farmers are always going to be poor—well, why? Why don’t we say that it’s OK for farmers to earn a healthy return on their investment of money and time and effort and energy and anguish?”

The other is that many farmers truly don’t know the costs behind their crops and sell them for less than their cost. Gibson said developing a business plan helps eliminate that.

Even with the many farms existent in this area, Gibson believes there’s plenty of business out there for each to make a profit with correct planning.

“Healthy eating, healthy lifestyle choices, healthy food—whether it’s organic or non-organic, whatever you choose—there’s never going to be enough of it,” Gibson said. “There’s always room for farmers and farming to grow.”