NCAT Agriculture Specialist
This resource list contains sources of business planning templates and further resources for agricultural enterprises. These resources include Internet and print resources as well as training courses and workshops
Business planning is crucial to success for both new and established enterprises. Going through the planning process increases the chances for success and helps avoid costly mistakes. It can be very helpful to have your plan evaluated by several people to make sure that you haven't missed any vital components or issues. This critical evaluation will also be helpful when presenting the plan to lenders or other potential funders.
There is a great deal of information and assistance available for writing and using business plans in your farm enterprise. Every state has Small Business Development Centers and Cooperative Extension offices that offer such assistance, as do many state departments of agriculture and/or economic development agencies. However, many producers would like to have business plan examples and other information that is specific to agriculture. This resource list, therefore, does not tell you how to write a business plan, but refers you to sources of business planning information and assistance that are most relevant to the smaller-scale or alternative agricultural entrepreneur.
|Related ATTRA Publications:
Assessing the feasibility of an agricultural enterprise is the first step to developing a business plan. The following ATTRA publications will help you explore the feasibility of your enterprise ideas
While not focused on agricultural enterprises specifically, BizPlanIt's Virtual Business Plan is a free on-line resource that includes business plan fundamentals to consider and incorporate into each section of your plan; highlights the most common mistakes in each section of the plan; and provides other advice, articles, tips, tools, and links related to each section of a business plan. Available at www.bizplanit.com/virtual-business-plan.
How to Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide:
The following British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (BCMAFF) enterprise business planning templates are available on the Internet:
Chicken Broiler Producer, Dairy Producer, Grains and Seeds, Bee
Keeper, Cow/Calf Ranch, Greenhouse Vegetable, Greenhouse Floriculture,
Wholesale Nursery, and Direct Farm Marketing (mixed vegetables,
berries, and value-added products). These templates include detailed
information on each step of developing agricultural enterprise
business plans, and they are very highly recommended. They are
A vineyard business plan workbook is available at www.southernillinois.biz/downloads/vineyardworkbook.pdf. [PDF/171KB]
Adding Value to Beef Production walks you through developing a business plan for value-added beef enterprises. Includes case studies of actual businesses.
Adding Value to Pork Production walks you through developing a business plan for value-added pork enterprises. Includes case studies of actual businesses.
An interesting sample business plan for an Internet-based horse reseller is available at www.bplans.com/spv/3103/index.cfm?affiliate.
Sample business plans for various food businesses are available at www.agmrc.org/business_development/starting_a_business/creating_a_business/business-plans/.
A sample business plan for value-added sauces and other Hispanic foods is available at www.bplans.com/spv/3230/index.cfm?affiliate.
"Building a Sustainable Business: a Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses" brings the business planning process alive to help today's alternative and sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs transform farm-grown inspiration into profitable enterprises. Sample worksheets lend a practical perspective and illustrate how real farm families set goals, researched processing alternatives, determined potential markets, and evaluated financing options. Blank worksheets help the reader develop a detailed, lender-ready business plan or map out strategies to take advantage of new opportunities.
Download a copy. [PDF/6038K]
This publication is also available in an abbreviated Spanish version from the University of Missouri at:
Hard copies are available for $17 (plus $5.95 shipping and handling charge).
To order hard copies, go to: http://www.sare.org/publications/order.htm or contact:
Sustainable Agriculture Publications
210 Hills Building
University of Vermont
Burlington , VT 05405-0082
Getting Started in Freshwater Aquaculture is
a "one-stop" resource
for planning an aquaculture enterprise. A CD-ROM includes sections
on business planning, marketing, species selection, water resources
needed, and production methods. An accompanying workbook provides
review questions, business planning forms, and example test questions.
Also included are sample business plans, cash flow statements,
and enterprise budgets. "Getting Started in Freshwater Aquaculture" is
available for $59.95 (checks payable to Purdue University Aquaculture).
To place an order, or for more information, contact:
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program
1026 Poultry Science Building
West Lafayette , IN 47907-1026
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a national organization sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA), is made up more than 13,000 volunteer business executives who provide free counseling, workshops, and seminars to prospective and existing small business people. E-mail counseling is a confidential, fast, and convenient option that is also offered by SCORE. SCORE volunteers can assist you in developing a business plan, or review an existing plan. There are SCORE volunteers with expertise in agriculture available. You can find them by searching at www.score.org. If you don't have access to the Internet, call ATTRA, and we can do the search for you. If you would prefer face-to-face counseling, visit their Web site or contact SCORE to find a counselor near you.
409 3rd Street, SW
Washington , DC 20024
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are sponsored by the SBA, in partnership with state and local governments, the educational community, and the private sector. They provide technology, informational resources, and on-site counseling for start-up and expanding businesses to create business, marketing, and other plans, do research, and receive expert training and assistance. To locate your nearest SBDC, contact the SBA Small Business Answer Desk at 800-827-5722, or go to www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/sbdc/sbdclocator/index.html. SBA business planning resources are available at http://www.sba.gov/writing-business-plan .
FINPACK is a comprehensive financial planning and
analysis system designed to help farmers and ranchers understand
their financial situation and make informed decisions. The FINPACK
Business Plan includes a comprehensive outline, sample plans, and
detailed information on what should be included in the business
plan. Supporting information from any electronic source can be
cut-and-pasted into the plan. Cost is $295 ($145 for Minnesota
residents) for the Professional version and $95 for the Personal
version. You can download a free trial version of the FINPACK Business
Plan at: www.cffm.umn.edu/products/busiplan.aspx.
To order, or for more information, contact:
Center for Farm Financial Management
University of Minnesota
130 Classroom Office Building
1994 Buford Avenue
St. Paul , MN 55108
Business Plan Pro 2004 is the most used business planning software available. More than 400 sample plans are included; among them are some plans relevant to agriculture, such as plans for medicinal herb, tree fruit, and mixed fruit and vegetable enterprises. Most Small Business Development Centers offer use of this software for free or at nominal cost. If you would like your own copy, it costs $99.95. To order, or for more information, call 800-229-7526, or visit www.bplans.com/contentkit/index.cfm?affiliate=bestwarere.
PlanWrite is another highly recommended business planning software
package. Sample business plans, some related to agriculture, and
actual business plans from real businesses—winners of the
prestigious MootCorp® business plan competition—are included.
The basic version costs $119.95. To order, or for more information,
call 800-423-1228 or visit
Market Farm Forms is an excellent planning tool
for diversified farms that market direct to the consumer or run
Community Supported Agriculture operations. There are few resources
for this type of farm enterprise, and this is one of the best.
Developed by a market farmer, Market Farm Forms contains computer
spreadsheet templates for planning and organizing information on
diversified market farms. This software program will help you in
planning crops and budgets, ordering seed and soil amendments,
growing transplants, projecting yields and income, and then tracking
what really happens compared to your projections. If you don't
use a computer, you can copy the forms in the spiral bound manual
and do the calculations by hand. The Market Farm Forms package
is available for Windows or Mac systems for $49.95 (free shipping).
It can be ordered on-line or by mail at the address below.
Mail Order Department
Nature's Pace Sanctuary
Hartshorn , MO 65479
Tilling the Soil of Opportunity is a comprehensive, 12-week course
in business planning offered through the NxLeveL business planning
training network. Individual sessions focus on topics such as marketing,
financial management, how to perform market research, legal issues,
human resource management, risk management, and other important
issues. It is particularly useful to those considering marketing
approaches such as direct marketing, agri-tourism, or developing
a cooperative. Courses were available in 36 states at the time
of publication. The course fee varies from community to community.
Each state and/or community sets its own course fee structure.
To find out whether the course available in your community, or
for more information, contact:
Utah Small Business Development Centers
9750 South 300 West, Bldg. 5
Sandy , UT 84070
FastTrac offers many business planning and feasibility
assessment programs for entrepreneurs. Of particular interest is
their Microenterprise series of programs, aimed at lower-to-middle-income
people who are starting or expanding a small business. For more
information, contact: FastTrac National Headquarters
Kansas City , MO 64110
By Holly Born
NCAT Agriculture Specialist
© NCAT 2004
This page was last updated on: August 7, 2018