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Planning to Stay in Business (BF 202)

Writing Your Business Plan

Whether you intend to borrow money or not, heading into a farm venture without a business plan is like setting sail across the ocean without a map. Either way, you’re likely to run into bumps and twists that can derail your venture. Arm yourself with a business plan and you will have a guide to aid your farm decision-making and demonstrate to yourself and your family that your ideas are feasible. This intensive, fast-paced course is designed to help you build your plan quickly.

”The most valuable thing about this course was that it made me hash out and put on paper each section of my business plan. It is so easy to put business plan writing on the back burner, and this course made it move to the top of my to-do list and allowed me to get all my ideas and financials into one organized document.” –Courtney S, Paloma, CA

Target Audience

This course is geared for new farmers as well as those expanding or transitioning from one farm enterprise to another. Before enrolling in this course you should already know the type of farm you want, some short-term and longer-term farm business goals, and the geographic area or state where you intend to farm. You should have at least some first-hand experience with farming, including personal research into the type of farm you will operate. NOTE: If you are new to farming or are still exploring ideas, it may be helpful to take BF 101: Starting at Square One before enrolling in BF 202.

Course Objectives

Upon completing this course, you will have a full business plan in a format ready to be implemented on the farm. The business plan may be used to guide you in decision-making in the course of running the farm business. Additionally, the business plan will be in a form ready to submit to a banker, private investor or grantor, in the event you are seeking outside funding.

Graduates of BF 202 have obtained equipment and operating loans, and mortgages, for start-up and expanding farms.


The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from outside presenters, ask questions, and collaborate with other participants and the instructor to address your farm issues in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing. Access details will be posted in MOODLE once you have registered and logged in.


Rebecca Schuelke-Staehr co-owns Cayuga Pumpkin Barn and formerly worked for the NY Farm Viability Institute.
Steve Hadcock is the Beginning Farmer and Market Development Educator for the Capital Area Agricultural and Horticultural Program for Cornell Cooperative Extension.


Thurs. Feb 4 – March 10, 2016. Webinars will be on Thursday evenings from 6-7:30pm Eastern time, and will be recorded for later viewing.

Course Outline

  • Week 1: Welcome and Introduction
    Topics covered: Introductions. Overview of our online “campus” (Moodle), course outline, and business plan template. Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) farm analysis. Business plan cover page and farm supporting information statement.
  • Week 2: Mission and Goals
    Topics covered: Writing mission statement, goal and vision statements. Farm business structure. Farmer guest speaker.
  • Week 3: Organizational and Operational Plans
    Topics covered: Writing organizational and operational plans. Guest speaker on farm business structure, defining job duties.
  • Week 4: Marketing Planning
    Topics covered: market channels, volume, pricing, etc. Enterprise budgeting. Farmer guest speaker.
  • Week 5: Financial Statements
    Topics covered: balance sheet, cash flow, profit and loss, business development plan.
  • Week 6: Financial Statements
    Topics covered: loans, grants, crowd-source funding. Bank lender guest speaker.

Cost and Registration

Fee for this course is $200.
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