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Home  > Agricultural Risk Management

Agricultural Risk Management - English and Spanish Curriculum

How these project materials were developed

NCAT LogoThese project materials were developed through the support of USDA's Risk Management Agency Outreach program, and in a collaborative effort between the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Farm and Agricultural Collaborative Training Services (FACTS). The idea was to develop approaches and methods for training farmers in risk management methods that focused on first identifying gaps in risk management skills of the farmers, then developing a curriculum to address the gaps. In our case, we knew the audience in advance, and developed a survey which was designed to outline knowledge gaps.

How to Use These Materials

First and foremost, the materials should be used as a guide to provide some ideas about how to approach non-traditional risk management training. In the past, much risk management has focused on various kinds of crop insurance. However, in order for a farmer to access crop insurance, subsidized loan programs, etc, other skills must first be developed: record keeping, cashflow budgeting, understanding contracts, and planning and planting for one's markets. These materials are aimed at increasing understanding of these later skills in the context of supporting the values and goals most important to the farmer and his or her family.

Note: Some of the following documents are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs. Download Acrobat Reader.

A CD-ROM with all the Risk Management documents listed below is available upon request by calling ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service at 800-346-9140. Downloading large PDF documents directly from this Web site may take a long time, depending on connection and computer speed.

This training guide is divided into three sections.

Trainers Manual: [PDF, 610KB]. This document is a user-friendly curriculum that guides the trainer in six risk management lessons which focus on identifying farm family goals, marketing, managing money (individual cash flow budgeting), planting for multiple markets, and contracts and regulations. The last section covers developing an action plan to implement changes on the individual's farm. However, in the actual training course, this session was changed at the request of the participants to do cash flow budgeting at the cooperative (as opposed to individual) level. The curriculum is easy to follow, suggests what types of equipment and handouts to use, what questions might be used to solicit information from participants and what answers to look for. This curriculum was developed so that each session's topics flow into the following session. Rearranging the session sequence will require a close review of the curriculum for each session to ensure that the training does not refer to a concept, form or exercise that has not yet been introduced

Participants Workbook: [PDF, 850KB]. (Also available in Spanish, Part 1, 4.8MB, and Part 2, 3.8MB. This document is used in conjunction with the Trainers Manual as a teaching support. It is divided into 6 lesson sections and contains handouts and worksheets that pertain to each lesson.

Overheads: [PDF, 141KB]. (Also available in Spanish, 162KB] These are used in conjunction with the Trainers Manual as a teaching support. Some of these documents are also "stand-alones." Many of the overheads have identical counterparts in the Participants Workbook, which are a series of forms provided to training participants.

Other materials developed from this project:

Risk Management Survey: [Microsoft Word, 45KB]. (Also available in Spanish, 41KB.) This survey was developed to ascertain the risk management skills of the participants of this training.

Introduction to Risk Management Survey: In both Spanish and English [Microsoft Word, 23KB]. Provides context of how the survey document was developed and what it is used for.

Survey Results [Microsoft Word, 28KB]: A summary of survey results collected during this project.

The following useful stand-alone materials are available, as well. English versions of these documents can be found in the English Participants Workbook on the page numbers in parentheses. Spanish versions are PDF files available for download.

Lessons learned from this project:

  1. It's very important to develop a curriculum that first meets the needs identified by the farmers and balance that with providing training in skills that surveys and observations indicate there are knowledge/skills gaps.
  2. Communicate with the folks that will be participating in the training. Listen to their needs with respect to timing, duration, venue, and content.
  3. Be flexible. We changed the course content to address topics of priority concern to growers, as well as to accommodate speakers' schedules. We reserved time in the final session to focus on topics of interest and concern to the growers.
  4. Do not assume literacy on the part of participants—reading levels may vary from college level, to primary school, to functionally illiterate. Do not equate literacy with intelligence! Use of detailed forms, etc, must be geared to the literacy level of participants.
  5. Farmers are very busy. Every effort should be made to make the training interesting, compelling and fun.
  6. If at all possible, try to develop a trusting relationship with one or more of the farmers prior to the actual training. We met with the farmers several times prior to the start of the training, and each time we met, we learned more about their operation and situation. An icebreaker on the front end of the training course, particularly if trainers have not had extended contact with participants, is recommended.


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This page was last updated on: December 22, 2014