Writing a business plan can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there are many resources to help you get started:
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) New Farmer’s Website offers a wealth of information and resources on how to start a farm, make a business plan, find land and money, risk management, taxes, safety and more. Every state has a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinator who can help you get started on your farm business.
Cornell University’s Starting an Ag-Business? A Pre-Planning Guide leads a farmer through through the whole planning process from start to finish. Parts of the guide focuses on New York, however, the information can still help a farmer think through crops and livestock in North Dakota. Sections on business goals, sales potential, growing, harvesting, costs, and next steps all help the future farmer.
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Partnership for Sustainable Communities - Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook provides worksheets and questions for urban farmers to develop or revise their business plans. Most of the tools in this handbook can be easily used to a rural business plan, too.
Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Businesses Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses, USDA’s National Agricultural Library’s Farm Business Planning section links to even more business planning resources. Scroll to the Library’s Small Farm Funding Resources page to find resources to help with financial and planning, funding and program assistance and disaster assistance.
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) offers resources to help start farms. The Farm Start Up Business Planning features self-guided courses and case studies and specific information such as horticulture crops where information on fruits, greenhouse production, herbs and flowers and vegetables is available.
FarmAnswers is a resource available through the University of Minnesota. FarmAnswers' Planning the Farm library covers business planning, enterprise selection, equipment, farmland planning, risk management and strategic planning. The Production Type library covers local foods and organic farming topics. Information comes in the form of online courses, presentations and videos, website links and written materials.
The Oregon State University Extension Service has created a Whole Farm Management Planning Book that includes worksheets to develop operations, plan marketing strategies, and manage finances.
FARRMS is devoted to enhancing farm and ranch sustainability in North Dakota. Programs like Farm Dreams help an aspiring farmer explore their dreams in the agricultural industry whereas Farm Beginnings is a topic specific hands on training course for new and beginning farmers, focused on building a successful venture. FARRMS also has mentorship and intern programs.
The National Agricultural Law Center provides electronic resources for agricultural law topics. Links to regulations, research articles, government publications and other resources are organized by topic. Topic examples include agricultural leases, animal feeding operations, animal welfare, check off and commodity programs, crop/disaster insurance, and Country of Origin labeling.
North Dakota Small Business Development Center business advisors can provide technical assistance with agricultural business. Here is a direct link to the business advisor at North Central Planning Council’s SBD.