Annie’s Project: business skills for women farmers

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According to 2007 U.S. agricultural census data, there are 9,176 Wisconsin farms identifying a woman as the principal operator, indicating a 25 percent increase from the 2002 data.  This places Wisconsin ninth in the nation for the number of women principal operators.

Research indicates that farms operated by women are on average smaller in acres and sales when compared to farms operated by males. These farms are more likely to have limited resources and consider alternative and/or direct marketing enterprises. Beginning farm women and those considering an alternative enterprise have different educational and risk management needs compared to established farmers and commodity producers.

A new program sponsored by University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension; UW Center for Dairy Profitability and the UW-Extension Agricultural Innovation Center has been developed to assist farm women who are just starting or are direct-marketing their farm products in Sauk and surrounding counties. The program, called Annie’s Project, is modeled after a successful program that started in Illinois and has spread to over 20 states. While the original Annie’s Project focused on traditional farm commodity enterprises, this new program will focus on the risk management educational needs for beginning farm women and/or farm women who are considering a direct marketing or value-added enterprise for their operation. 

This six week workshop will help participants:

  • Evaluate goals, skills and resources to determine farm business feasibility.
  • Learn how to gather market research
  • Prepare to write a  business plan
  • Gather information on tax issues and business structures for the farm business
  • Learn about core financial statements and how to use them to make sustainable decisions.
  • Learn about state and federal regulations and industry practices for direct marketing farm products and safe food handling.
  • Become familiar with valuable resource agencies, organizations, and personnel as they continue writing and implementing their business plans.

The Sauk City program will be on six consecutive Tuesdays, starting in November through December. The dates are November 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and December 7, from 5 p.m. – 9p.m. The classes will meet at the Cedarberry Inn, 855 Phillips Boulevard, Sauk City.  The cost for this pilot project has been subsidized through grants and sponsorships, so organizers are able to offer this program for $60 per participant for the entire six week course. This fee covers materials, speakers, and the evening meal for the six sessions.  For more information, or to register for the class, contact Denise Brusveen at the Sauk County UW-Extension Office at (608) 355.3257 or denise.brusveen@ces.uwex.edu

The Elkhorn program will be on six Wednesdays, starting in November through December. The dates are November 3, 10, 17 and December 1, 8 & 15, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. The classes will meet at the Walworth County Extension Office in the Walworth County Courthouse, 100 Walworth St., Elkhorn. The cost for this program is $30 per participant for the entire six week course. This fee covers materials, speakers, and lunch for the six sessions.  For more information, or to register for the class, contact Peg Reedy at the Walworth County UW Extension Office at (262) 741.4961 or peg.reedy@ces.uwex.edu Information about the six week workshop series can also be found on the UW-Extension Heart of the Farm website.

One of the goals of Annie’s Project is to provide networking opportunities for farm women in similar situations or developing similar enterprises. A social networking format will be established for the group by the organizers to continue the networking component after the workshop series is completed.

Source: University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension

 



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