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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors, 2nd Edition. Unit 6 - Building Resilience: Small Farm Planning and Operations

  • Editor(s): Perez, Jan
  • Brown, Martha
  • Miles, Albie
  • et al.

This unit is about integrated farm planning. The goal of this approach to planning is to integrate the crop plan, the marketing plan, the financial plan, and the time management plan in order to minimize risk and maximize return.

All businesses have to manage uncertainty, but farmers face significant risks that are beyond their control, including the vagaries of nature, the fiercely competitive global market, land access challenges, and increased demands from local markets for ever-improved food safety plans and marketing materials. The farmer does not know what will happen each year, but over the life of the farm all of these pressures (and more) will surely influence the farmer’s success. While larger farmers selling into the undifferentiated commodity market can manage a great deal of production and marketing risk with crop insurance and marketing contracts, small-scale direct-market farmers have to manage their risks with their wits.

As with many things in farming, diversity—combined with planning—is the key. The lectures, exercises, and background scenario presented in Units 6.0–6.4 provide a framework for planning and operating a small direct-market farm to ensure resilience in an ever-changing world.

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