Wednesday, March 31, 2010

From Recipe to Reality Seminar

For anyone who is contemplating a value added food product as an enterprise from their farm, I usually recommended people to take the From Recipe to Reality seminar put on by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The one-day "From Recipe to Reality" seminar is the first step in developing a food business. It is specifically designed to provide entrepreneurs with an understanding of the key issues they will need to consider when starting a food business. Participants include individuals interested in marketing a family recipe, individuals with a product idea or concept, producers considering adding value to an agricultural product, restaurateurs exploring the manufacturing of a house specialty, and store owners contemplating the development of a private label products.

Pre-registration is required and space is limited.

Program dates for 2010 in Lincoln, NE - June 4, August 20, October 23.

Contact Jill Gifford at (402) 472-2819 or for an information packet.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ten Things You May Not Know about Farm Income and Deductions

I don't know of a single person that enjoys filling out and mailing in their taxes.  When it comes to farm taxes there are some things you should take into consideration.  (debi kelly)

If you are in the business of farming, there are a number of tax issues that you should consider before filing your federal tax return. The IRS has compiled a list of 10 things that farmers may want to know before filing their federal tax return.

1. Crop Insurance Proceeds - You must include in income any crop insurance proceeds you receive as the result of crop damage. You generally include them in the year you receive them.

2. Sales Caused by Weather-Related Condition - If you sell more livestock, including poultry, than you normally would in a year because of weather-related conditions, you may be able to choose to postpone reporting the gain from selling the additional animals due to the weather until the next year.

3. Farm Income Averaging - You may be able to average all or some of your current year's farm income by allocating it to the three prior years. This may lower your current year tax if your current year income from farming is high, and your taxable income from one or more of the three prior years was low. This method does not change your prior year tax, it only uses the prior year information to determine your current year tax.

4. Deductible Farm Expenses - The ordinary and necessary costs of operating a farm for profit are deductible business expenses. An ordinary expense is an expense that is common and accepted in the farming business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the business.

5. Employees and hired help - You can deduct reasonable wages paid for labor hired to perform your farming operations. This would include full-time employees as well as part-time workers.

6. Items Purchased for Resale - You may be able to deduct the cost of livestock and other items purchased for resale in the year of sale. This cost includes freight charges for transporting the livestock to the farm.

7. Net Operating Losses - If your deductible expenses from operating your farm are more than your other income for the year, you may have a net operating loss. If you have a net operating loss this year, you can carry it over to other years and deduct it. You may be able to get a refund of part or all of the income tax you paid for past years, or you may be able to reduce your tax in future years.

8. Repayment of loans - You cannot deduct the repayment of a loan if the loan proceeds are used for personal expenses. However, if you use the proceeds of the loan for your farming business, you can deduct the interest that you pay on the loan.

9. Fuel and Road Use - You may be eligible to claim a credit or refund of federal excise taxes on fuel used on a farm for farming purposes.

10. Farmers Tax Guide - More information about farm income and deductions can be found in IRS Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide which is available at or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

IRS Publication 225, Farmer's Tax Guide

Thursday, March 25, 2010

MADE in Missouri competition will highlight new businesses in Missouri

This program is open to the entire state and for ag businesses.

Missouri Alliance for the Development of Entrepreneurship (MADE) is proud to present the 2010 MADE in Missouri State Entrepreneurship Competition, an event that will highlight new and aspiring businesses through a competitive and educational business development process.

The competition will provide Missouri's new and potential business owners an opportunity to put their business ideas up against others throughout the state. Participants start by answering a questionnaire about their business idea and will be provided with tips and suggestions for improving their businesses. Finalists will present their products and services at the Missouri State Fair on August 19 in Sedalia with cash prizes awarded for startup capital to the winners.

Registration is open to any potential business owner or current business owner in operation three years or less. There are Youth and Open categories for participation, and entrepreneurs considering going into business for the first time are welcomed. Participants do not have to be in business yet to compete.

Submissions for the preliminary level are due April 10. For more information and to register, go online or contact:

Cheryl Zimny, Community Development Manager
Missouri Valley Community Action Agency
1415 S. Odell
Marshall, MO 65340

The Missouri Alliance for the Development of Entrepreneurship (MADE) is a project facilitated by Missouri Valley Community Action Agency of Marshall, a not-for-profit organization.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What enterprises interest beginning farmers?

The top 10 enterprises that beginning farmers are interested in starting are:

  1.  vegetables
  2.  beef
  3.  chickens
  4.  tree fruits/orchards
  5.  hogs
  6.  small fruits
  7.  organic grains
  8.  turkeys
  9.  meat goats
10.  herbs

As part of the Beginning Farmer Grant, we will be offering short courses and workshops on topics of most interest to beginning farmers.  Tell us what your top interests are as a beginning farmer in the post below.  This will help us to plan the topics of the upcoming courses in 2011.

The topics of the courses and workshops for 2010 are Small Fruits, Producing Vegetables for the Local Market, Tractor 101, Direct Marketing and Small Ruminants.  Be on the look out for dates and locations on this blog.  (debi kelly)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What do beginning farmers want assistance with?

Based on a 2009 survey from Practical Farmers of Iowa:

  1. Developing a whole farm plan (39%)
  2. Building infrastructure (barns, greenhouses, fences) (36%)
  3. Acquiring land (rent, lease, purchase) (36%)
  4. Reearching legal requirements (36%)
  5. Obtaining credit or capital (34%)
  6. Networking with other beginners (30%)
  7. Pricing products (28%)
  8. Obtaining permits, licenses, and insurance (28%)
  9. Holistic management training (26%)
10. Apprenticing or finding a farmer mentor (26%)

If you as a beginning farmer have any other thoughts you'd like to share about what assistance you feel you need and especially if you are not are receiving it, please post a comment below.  (debi kelly)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Is Direct Marketing for me?

Many farmers in Missouri are doing a rising business in selling products directly to consumers. From 1997-2007, direct to consumer sales rose by 74 percent in Missouri based on data from the Census of Agriculture! Direct to consumer marketing can take a variety of forms, from roadside stands to U-pick operations to delivering to restaurants. It can include farmers’ markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s important to evaluate which market channel you are interested in based on how much time it’s going to take, how much income distribution you need throughout the year, and how much legal liability you are willing to assume. However, you also need to think about how easy it is to enter the marketplace, what kind of packaging and presentation you are planning, what kind of volume and product variability the market requires, and how much price stability there is. For instance, farmers’ markets are “easy to enter” because most have daily vendor spots available and it doesn’t cost you much to put up a stand. However, they are time intensive in terms of picking, packing, setting up and selling and you have to have a small volume of lots of different products. Still they are a good place to experiment with products and get your feet wet in marketing directly to consumers!  (Mary Hendrickson)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Beginning Loan Programs

FCS Financial is the agricultural cooperative that finances farm and rural enterprise across Missouri, except for SE Missouri. The cooperative has a Beginning Farmer loan program that can lend up to $500,000 to an eligible borrower. Most BF loans are for amounts smaller than $500,000. Learn more…

The Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) administers a program funded by the state for Missouri’s beginning farmers. The Authority can lend up to $470,100 to qualified borrowers for land, buildings, farm equipment and breeding livestock. Loans are made through local banks with MASBDA issuing tax-exempt bonds as a means of funding the program. Learn more …

The U S Department of Agriculture offers beginning loans through the Farm Service Agency. Start here…

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Farm Mission Statement

Every farm, gardener or landowner should have a mission statement!

Now, I know that you think. I have waded through the deep mud too much this winter and lost my mind, or I am still goofy from being knocked down by a cow last fall. However, really all planning begins with a mission statement.

What is a mission statement? It is, in simple terms, a statement about what you plan to do. It is based on your values and personal vision.

Now stay with me; I’m not trying to get all touchy-feely! Your mission statement says what you do and gives insight to what is important to you. We find ourselves going in fifteen different directions and we lose track of what we really set out to accomplish. In our recent Grow Your Farm courses, I met Paul, who owns a very successful garden store in southeast Missouri. His mission statement is “We grow flowers and friends.” What can we learn from his mission statement? We know that Paul’s customers are very important to him. I learned that Paul’s business prides itself in customer service and having everything the grower needs at the highest quality.

We see mission statements all the time from big business. Lots of times it seems as if the statement was written more to impress someone than to describe the business. However, a mission statement should reflect your values and be written for your benefit. Let me give you a few examples of mission statements:

1) ”Our goal is to provide the highest quality vegetables for our customers by growing unique, fresh vegetables that are healthy and raised in an environmentally responsible way”.

2) “We want to produce quality feeder cattle that perform in the feedlot and yield a high quality carcass resulting in an excellent product for beef consumers.”

3) “I want to grow a garden to provide safe, wholesome, and nutritional food for my family.”

4) “We plan to establish a vineyard to produce specialty grapes for local wineries and to supplement our income in retirement.”

Once you write a mission statement, write goals based on that statement.  So the next time you are riding on the tractor, cutting the grass, or working in the garden, think about your mission statement. A good mission statement can help you focus on what you really want to accomplish and more efficiently use time, money and other resources.  (Dean Wilson, Jefferson County Extension Center and facilitator of one of the many Grow Your Farm courses across the state.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Introduction to Greenhouse Production Workshop

Tuesday March 16, 2010 6-9 p.m.

Topics to be discussed:

An introduction to greenhouse structures, crops, pests and management held in the greenhouse. Hands on vegetable grafting, a take home skill to use in your Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Where: 30 miles east of KC at 9582 Leathers Road, Richmond Missouri, 64085

Cost: $5.00 per person

Pre-register, 660.232.1096 or

Monday, March 8, 2010

Electric Fencing

A good fence should keep your livestock in; last 25 to 30 years without major rebuilding, repair, or replacement; and be low cost and easy to build. The cost of most fences is half labor and half materials.  For a truly low-cost fence, use only high-quality, long-life materials. The most critical element of an electric fence is maintaining an adequate voltage charge.  To learn more about electric fencing read the extension publication "The ABCs of Electric Livestock Fencing."  To learn more about the fence laws specific to Missouri read "Missouri Fencing and Boundary Laws."

Friday, March 5, 2010


Practical Farmers of Iowa is excited to announce its spring lineup of online webinars, or farminars. This series of farminars, which being March 2nd, will have a “Fishbowl” theme: You listen and learn while experienced farmers answer beginning farmers’ questions on pastured poultry, vegetable production, and raising grass-fed beef. To register and participate in the farminars, visit

Farminar technology fosters learning and networking online, allowing viewers to participate from any location that has a computer and internet access. Practical Farmers of Iowa hosted 12 farminars last fall and this winter. These farminars have been watched by over 2000 people from across the United States.

Practical Farmers of Iowa spring farminars are:

Tuesday, March 2, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Beginner Fishbowl – “Pastured Poultry”

Farmer Tim Daley, Shamrock Acres, raises poultry and pastured lamb near New Hartford, Iowa. He direct markets pastured broilers, eggs and turkeys. Tim will share his extensive knowledge on pastured poultry with beginning farmers Brian and Cheryl Ness from Newton, Iowa. Join in and your questions will be answered, ensuring you will not” fowl-up” your beginning operation.

Tuesday, March 9, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Beginner Fishbowl – “Vegetable Production”

Farmer Gary Guthrie, Growing Harmony Farm, also known as the "Carrot King,” has 12 years of experience producing vegetables on two acres of intensively managed land in a five-year rotation near Nevada, Iowa. Joining Gary will be beginning vegetable farmer Jennifer Zieser from Marion, Iowa. Come with your small-scale "high intensity" questions and learn the system of roto-tiller/hand tool vegetable production. Other topics include cover crops and mulching to manage weeds and add organic matter to the soil.

Tuesday, March 16, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Beginner Fishbowl – “Vegetable Marketing”

Farmer Susan Jutz, ZJ Farms, raises vegetables and lambs on her farm near Solon, Iowa. She provides more than 300 families with vegetables and herbs through a multi-producer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that has been in operation since 1996. Listen in as she answers questions posed by beginning farmer Chris Corbin of Ames, and learn about marketing techniques she finds to be effective.

Tuesday, March 23, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Beginner Fishbowl – “Grass-Fed Beef”

Doug Gunnink raises grass-fed beef at Dutch Mill Farms in Minnesota. He runs the Gunnink Forage Institute and educates people on a national level how to successfully raise grass-finished beef. Dave Schmidt is an Iowa native turned Californian who is moving back to begin grazing cattle near Garwin, Iowa. Listen in as they talk about grass-fed beef production and setting up a system for the beginning grazier.

Did you miss the fall and winter farminar series? All archived farminars are available online.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s spring 2010 farminars are made possible by funding from the Ceres Foundation, the Wallace Genetic Foundation, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and individual donors to Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Next Generation Campaign.

Practical Farmers of Iowa includes a diverse group of farmers and nonfarmers. Corn, soybeans, beef cattle, and hay are the top enterprises for PFI farmers, although many have a variety of other operations, including fruits and vegetables. PFI’s programming stresses farmer-to-farmer networking through research and demonstration, field days, conferences, and more. For more information, call 515-232-5661 or visit

Thursday, March 4, 2010


It seems not a day goes by that I don't get a phone call or an email from someone asking about grants.  What I find interesting is the general mis-information that grants are free money.  Yes, grants can be considered "free money" in the sense that they don't have to be repaid back to the grantor.  But grants are very strict in what they can be used for.  I am not aware of any grant that will allow the purchase of land or animals, equipment more than $2,500, construction of a permanent structure (even a barn or a greenhouse) or to start a farm.  Grants generally are seed money to start on-farm research/demonstrations or educational activities.  With this being said, here is a great publication about grants and loans.  (debi)

Got a great idea? Need a grant or loan to get a jumpstart? Check out Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities, a guide to federal programs that provide financial and technical support for sustainable agriculture.

Written for anyone fostering innovative enterprises in agriculture and forestry in the United States, the guide features program resources in community development; sustainable land management; and value-added and diversified agriculture and forestry.

Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities is a collaborative publication of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). Additional funding was provided by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) program, U.S. Forest Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The book was coordinated and edited by Margaret Krome, Teresa Maurer, and Katie Wied, with major contributions from John English, Gini Knight, Kim Kroll, Susan LeVan, Patricia McAleer, Robyn Metzger, Greg Taylor, and Steve Yaddof, and staff with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Website design, maintenance and hard copy distribution is conducted by the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Green Hills Farm Project

If you are really interested in learning more about being a grass farmer, in othe words, raising animals on grass, the Green Hills Farm Project is probably one of the best groups in the state of Missouri to get to know.  They are all so friendly and willing to share their knowledge with others who are interested in farming like they are.  You don't need to be a paid member of their group to attend any of their events.  It is well worth your while and time to spend a good portion of your day at one of their summer farm walks. (debi)

The Green Hills Farm Project is a group of grass farmers in the North Central part of Missouri that are dedicated to growing livestock on grass and networking with each other to learn.  They hold an annual winter workshop usually in January and then members hosts farm walks throughout the growing season.  All events are casual, family-oreinted and open to non-members.

Thursday 18th 5pm, Linneus Community Center, Linneus, MO

We will get together and visit with one another about our farms. Discuss farm and animal issues. Recap our winter seminar on marketing. We will order out pizza and drinks. No carry in dish or chairs.  Meeting to follow the meal.


Thursday 15th 5pm, Tom & Paula Parker Farm, Richmond, MO. 816-470-3276

The Parker Family direct markets all of their pasture raised meats. See how they manage their sheep, chickens, pigs and cattle on pasture. Bring carry in dish and lawn chairs. This is a big family so bring all of your young ones! Meeting to follow meal.


Thursday 20th 4pm, Allen & Tauna Powell Farms, Laclede, MO. 660-963-2685 Come visit Allen & Tauna and all their cattle. All of the cows nutrition starts from the soil. Allen can tell us about his soil management plan. Come see good fence and great cattle. Tauna will tell us about her direct market pastured lamb meat. Beautiful wool products also. Bring carry in dish. Meeting to follow meal.


Thursday 17th 4pm, Dennis & Becky McDonald Farm, Galt, MO. 660-673-6508

Dennis always has much to teach all of us and Becky blesses us with her smiling hospitality! Come ready to learn from the many things that Dennis has experienced managing his land and cattle. Bring carry in dish and lawn chairs. Meeting to follow meal.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Food Safety – from Field to Market

Food Safety – from Field to Market

1 to 4 on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at Missouri State University Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove, Mo at Faurot Hall 101/102.

Topics to be covered:

• Importance of Food Safety – Update on Recent Outbreaks Associated with Fresh Produce

• State Regulations for Selling at Farmers Market

• Food Safety Concerns in the Field: Field preparation & planting, manure usage & crop cultural guidelines

• Irrigation Methods and Associated Issues

• Harvest and Post Harvest Safety

Presenters: Russell Lilly, Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services

John Avery, State Fruit Experiment Station Fruit Grower Advisor

Patrick Byers, Horticulturist, University of Missouri Extension

Participants who complete the workshop will receive a certificate of completion and a laminated sign for display at their market stand.

There is no fee, but please call 417 547-7500 or e-mail to register if possible.

Walk-ins are welcome.

Directions: From Hwy 60, take second Mtn. Grove exit (Hwy 95). Turn north, go past Wal-Mart. Take next right (Red Spring Rd). 9740 Red Spring Rd. Mtn. Grove, Mo. Sponsored by Missouri State University Fruit Experiment Station Mtn. Grove.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Destination AgriTourism

I was fortunate enough to attend the Agritourism-Small Fruit and Vegetable Conference held in Lake of the Ozarks last week. The conference brought producers across the state together to share experiences and ideas. Many farmers are now diversifying their operations and becoming more involved in agritourism. They are not limiting themselves to just growing produce, but are inviting the public out to their farms and are selling value-added products like muffins, wreaths, or even lemonade. This enhances the visitor’s experience and promotes the farm’s status to a family destination.

Speakers at the conference included Leroy Rood from Pea Ridge Forest Tree Farm, Earnie Bohner from Persimmon Hill Farm and Leroy Shatto from the Shatto Milk Company. At the Pea Ridge Forest Tree Farm near Hermann, Missouri, Mr. Rood turns his farm into a winter wonderland each fall. Families come not only to choose and cut a Christmas tree, but can take pictures with Santa, eat kettle corn, drink hot coco, pet farm animals, buy ornaments and wreaths and sit by the fire in the gift store. During the summer, people come to Persimmon Hill Farm near Lampe, Missouri, to pick blueberries and blackberries. Many repeat visitors come just for their famous Blueberry Thunder Muffins, barbecue sauces, syrups, shiitake omelets, slushes, cookbooks and pottery cookware. The Shatto Milk Company near Osborn, Missouri, has successfully turned the small family dairy into a tourist attraction. Visitors receive a guided tour of the dairy where they learn how Shatto milk is produced and bottled, can milk a cow and sample dairy products. As vacationing close to home is becoming more popular, it is worth checking out some of the local agricultural attractions.

by Catherine Bohnert, Jefferson Institute