Business planning, On-Farm-Success-Poster-Dec-9-Finalfinancing, marketing, record-keeping and risk management are just a few of the tools farmers need to run successful, sustainable businesses. Between January and March 2014, we will be offering four workshops for farmers and ranchers in their first three years of operation.

The workshops will be offered in person at MSU Extension's Missoula office (2825 Santa Fe Ct) and will be offered live online for participants across the country. 



January 18: Envisioning Your Farm


  • Amita Patel, Montana Community Development Corporation (MCDC)
  • Seth Swanson, MSU Extension
  • Farmer Highlight: Bryce Christiaens, Native Ideals Seed Farm

Deliverables: Introduction to your business plan; Realistic goals and tangible next steps

  • Writing Vision and Mission Statements that Reflect Your Values
  • Setting Goals, Prioritizing, and Getting Things Done
  • Evaluating Your Resources and Planning to Improve Your Odds

February 8: Marketing Your Products


  • Amita Patel, MCDC
  • Dave Prather, Western Montana Growers' Coop (WMGC)
  • Franco Salazar, Clark Fork Farmers' Market
  • Farmer Panel: Mannix Family Beef, County Rail Farm, and Homestead Organics

Deliverables: Clear market goals; Market Research Plan; Marketing Plan for Business Plan

  • Identifying Your Market and Finding Your Niche
  • Selecting the Right Product for the Right Market - On-the-ground feedback on which local markets are tapped and which look like great new opportunities
  • Marketing Farmer Panel: Hear from farmers about how they've chosen the products they sell, their marketing plans, and their methods for distribution

March 1: Planning for Financial Success


  • Amita Patel, MCDC
  • Tammy Howard, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
  • Brianna Ewert, AgSquared
  • Sheila Rigby, Farm Service Agency
  • Julie Sacks, National Resources Conservation Service
  • Leslie Jensen, First Interstate Bank

Deliverables: Basic/complex financial documents depending on your level of interest; Plan for financing your farm; Financial Section of Business Plan, Optional: Get approved for FSA loans!

  • Profitability, Liquidity, Solvency: What does it mean for you?
  • Key financial statements you need on your farm - lo-tech to hi-tech and everything in between
  • What do the financiers need to know from you?  Hear from the Farm Service Agency, conventional bank lenders, and the National Resources Conservation Service

March 22: Managing Your Risks and Assets


  • Tim Busby, Montana Secretary of State's Office
  • Andre Marcure, Farmers' Union Insurance
  • Jan Tusick, Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center
  • Tammy Howard, NCAT
  • Farmer Panel: Missoula Grain & Vegetable Co, Golden Yoke Dairy, H-Brace Farm

Deliverables: Business start-up forms; Land access plan; Finalize your Business Plan

  • What you need to know to start a business in Montana
  • Insurance - from general liability to crop insurance - how do you protect yourself?
  • What's going on with the Food Safety Modernization Act and What rules do you need to follow?
  • Farmer Panel on Land Access: How others have found land and their lessons for you



Workshops are offered online and in-person and can be taken as a full series or individually.  All workshops come with a newly-developed workbook designed for beginning farmers in Montana and hands-on assistance from a business planning expert between workshops to help you refine your plan and prepare to take it to lenders or other financiers. In-person workshops also come with lunch and snacks!

Online workshops are offered live - meaning you watch from home at the same time we're offering the class in Missoula and you can ask questions and participate in the workshop just like you were there.

Full Workshop Series:

  • In-Person: $100
  • Online: $60

Individual Workshops:

  • In-Person: $30
  • Online: $15

Additional Farm Partners who are involved in the same farm operation may attend for a 25% discount. 

Campus credit is also available at the University of Montana.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.


If you are planning on taking the classes online, please visit this link to test your computer's capacity to use the online program:  If you have any issues, please contact Annie Heuscher at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


To register, click here!


This work is part of an exciting partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture.

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Additional partners include Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, MSU Extension, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Alternative Energy Resources Organization, Farm Service Agency, Montana Community Development Corporation, Western Montana Growers' Cooperative, Montana Department of Agriculture, and the Montana Farmers Union.