The Ag Portal includes sections for Equipment, Funding, Regulatory, Technical Production Assistance, Marketing and this section on Educational Resources which may include some duplication from the other sections. All business counselors should visit the sections noted above as well as those below especially if you are new to helping Agripreneur clients. These resources will assist you in speaking the language of the agricultural client and identifying pertinent resources as they might pertain to your Ag clients whether they are farming, value added producers, distributors, or retailers.
Whenever you meet an agripreneur be sure to ask them if they have a farm id #. This id can help them access funding and tax benefits from their agriculture venture. There are standards to meet for this designation. Each county has a Farm Service Agency (FSA) that distributes farm numbers. The FSA is also a source of information and funding every farmer should be aware of. Go to FSA Offices in North Carolina and program descriptions for more information.
You should also be sure your client is aware of the programming at their local Cooperative Extension office. This office supports beginning and experienced growers in production questions and more! Hopefully, you know your local agent and county director and can share their contact information! Go to the Directory of County Cooperative Extension Offices
In addition to the Small Business Center Network (SBCN) as a resource for business planning and appropriate free programming, there are numerous agencies and organizations supporting farming and food businesses. Some of these organizations are member based and some are government agencies providing FREE services. Become familiar with some of these resources, attend their meetings and meet their staff if you are working with many food and farming businesses. They can be your partners in your education programming and you can support their programming building a sustained resource to grow your local food economy!
NORTH CAROLINA EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES/RESOURCES
Natural Resource Conservation Service- County Offices (NRCS)
The Natural Resource Conservation Service- County Offices (NRCS) is a Federal Agency providing farmers (with a Farm ID) with cost share support for many programs including organic certification and conservation practices.
Rural Advacement Foundation International (RAFI) USA
Rural Advacement Foundation International (RAFI) USA is a nonprofit helping farmers in crisis and beyond with unique funding opportunities and educational programming. RAFI cultivates markets, policies, and communities that support thriving, socially just, and environmentally sound family farms.
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA)
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is a free technical services such as post-harvest handling and organic certification consultations.(membership required)
Organic Growers School
Organic Growers School is a 501c3 nonprofit, has been the premiere provider of practical and affordable organic education in the Southern Appalachians for 25 years.
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Association (ASAP)
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Association (ASAP) is a Member organization with tons of marketing and technical support programming.
Cooperative Extension Local Food Portal
Cooperative Extension Local Food Portal – Local Foods is a Flagship Program on NCSU’s Cooperative Extension Program. There are many, many resources here for farmers including the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter and training updates.
Additional Educational Resources
Build a brief history of your family, farm, and business while assessing your current strategies for marketing, operations, human resources, and financing. Prepare a SWOT analysis and put together the History and Current Situation section of your business plan to include worksheet to help with describing crop or livestock production systems.
Breaking Down the Cost of Pastured Chicken - This user-friendly infographic helps explain the total and per-pound cost of producing pastured poultry, including feed, labor, farm costs, transportation, processing, and marketing/sales.
Breaking Down the Cost of Grass-fed Beef - These user-friendly infographics help clients understand the total and per-pound cost of producing grassfed beef, including feed, labor fixed costs, transportation, processing and marketing/sales.
Building a Sustainable Business - Transform farm inspiration into a profitable and sustainable agricultural business with goal setting, while researching processing alternatives, determining potential markets, and evaluating funding while developing a lender friendly business plan.
Estimated Rows and Acres of Production Per Case and Pallet at Wholesale, Select Crops - Clients considering crop production can utilize this spreadsheet as a guide to translate harvest volume to fruit and vegetable crops in cases and pallets to estimate the wholesale or grocery store market volumes and substantiate production for the business plan.
NCDA Food Program - Clients wishing to start a food business need to understand that NCDA regulations that govern their particular type of food business including what types of food businesses are governed by the NCDA and which are regulated by the local county health department. This is a first stop for clients interested in understanding where to start gathering knowledge outside of the local Small Business Centers.
Organic Transitions - Farmers, ranchers, and food business owners considering transitioning to organic production though a multi-year, actionable plan will describe their vision, mission, goals and develop a strategic plan to implement and monitor the transition. A 5-Year Cash Flow Statement will help determine if the plan can meet expenses, make debt payments, and become profitable. Download this 177 page document as well as fillable PDF worksheets and electronic spreadsheets. Additional farm accounting, organic certification, conservation planning, rental agreements, tools for managing pest and environmental risks, etc are included on page 103-105 as well as sample business plans in the appendix.
Tips About Farm Business Structures - Explore the major considerations for each type of business structure while considering the advantages or disadvantages of each type.
LAND EVALUATION, GOOD AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES (GAP) & LEASING
Drafting a Lease – Questions for Famers and Landowners to Ask
Drafting a Lease – Questions for Famers and Landowners to Ask - Assist clients with understanding what issues should be addressed before putting together a lease following this checklist approach by category. Downloadable as a pdf.
Evaluating Land Tutorial
Evaluating Land Tutorial - Assisting a perspective client considering farming or leasing land for potential farming requires an assessment regarding the environmental condition of the land and whether any infrastructures need modification or if they are feasible on the property. Soil quality, water resources, field and pasture management, choosing what to produce, and taking care of the land are all discussed as well as achieving profitability and understanding taxes and regulations.
Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices Audit Verification Program
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) Audit Verification Program - Farming clients interested in GAP and GHP have a vested interest in growing safe food. The USDA and various inspection and standardization agencies developed the GAP & GHP audit verification program as a voluntary user-fee funded program to verify that fresh fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored according to food safety practices that minimize the risks of microbial food safety hazards.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) – Fresh Produce Safety Plan for Field Practices
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) – Fresh Produce Safety Plan for Field Practices - Agripreneur produce clients should have knowledge of farming practices and best management practices training for Good Agricultural Practices ( GAP) offered by the NC Cooperative Extension. They should be aware of requirements for implementing, checking, correcting, and documenting activities as they relate to worker health, hygiene, field sanitation, water usage, sewage treatments and soils, pesticide usage, minimizing contaminants to fields located near dairy, livestock, or fowl production activities, manure and biosolid usage, field harvesting, packing, and transportation as well as traceability.
Local Land Trust
Local Land Trust - North Carolina’s local land trusts preserve land and waterways to safeguard our way of life. Conservation Trust for NC works with landowners to ensure critical lands are protected for clean drinking water, recreation, tourism, healthy forests, and working farms that produce fresh, local foods. Browse the 2018 Directory to learn more about local land trust.
Preserving the Family Farm
The Land Loss Prevention Project (LLPP) was incorporated in the state of North Carolina in 1983. The organization broadened its mission in 1993 to provide legal support and assistance to all financially distressed and limited resource farmers and landowners in North Carolina. LLPP's advocacy for financially distressed and limited resource farmers involves action in three separate arenas: litigation, public policy, and promoting sustainable agriculture and environment. Activity in the litigation arena typically involves debt restructuring for farmers in crisis and other legal work. On the public policy front, LLPP monitors agricultural policy and the impact it has on North Carolina's small family farmers. Finally, LLPP helps family farmers and landowners develop sustainable agricultural practices that are environmentally friendly and economically viable for their rural communities. LLPP is committed to working alongside state, regional and national coalitions who support sustainable agriculture practices, development and policy innovations.
LOCAL SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
Local Foods Infrastructure Inventory
Local Foods Infrastructure Inventory - Assist clients with NC supply chain infrastructure using this map and text which can be sorted by county, category, business name, or district and includes websites and contact information which may be helpful to find cold storage, kitchens, processors, incubator farms, food hubs, farmers markets, co-packers, CSA’s, seafood processing, or wholesale distributors.
Local Food Supply Chain Apprenticeship: A Program Guide
Local Food Supply Chain Apprenticeship: A Program Guide - Educate and engage the next generation of food entrepreneurs and policy makers with a strategy to support the success of value chain intermediaries. This guide summarizes our planning and execution of the apprenticeship program between 2015 and 2018. Build stronger ties between local and regional food businesses and supporting organizations such as land grant universities in this guide from North Carolina Growing Together.
NCGT Hubs and Kitchens Directory
NCGT Hubs and Kitchens Directory - Identify services offered at all co-packers, food hubs, and commercial kitchens in the state.
NC Shipping Directory
NC Shipping Directory - This NC Fruit and Vegetable Shippers Directory is for growers, packers, and shippers to help them find top quality fruits, vegetables, herbs, greenhouse, and organic produce. There is a directory form to have a client’s farm listed in the directory.
Baskets to Pallets Teaching Manual
Baskets to Pallets Teaching Manual - This resource is intended for small and mid-size farmers who are seeking to explore wholesale markets such as groceries, food hubs, restaurants, or cooperatives. A series of presentations including 16 lesson plans grouped into 5 modules that can be taught individually in a 20-30 minute workshop with detailed discussions, activities, and videos will be useful for an agricultural service provider.
Collaborative Farming in NC
Collaborative Farming in NC - This document introduces producers and agricultural educators to different forms of collaboration that farmers can use to grow volume, increase efficiency, lower costs, and enter new markets; and provides the results of a 2017 study of collaborative farming in North Carolina.
Marketing, Business, & Risk Management
Marketing, Business, & Risk Management - This sizeable list includes numerous resources to guide agricultural businesses in managing risk, and offers advice on diversifying, developing new markets, and adding value to farm products to increase profitability. Information is included but not limited to Food Hubs, Organic Marketing & Labeling, Cooperatives, Risk Management, Food Safety, Value Added and Processing, etc. and is presented through videos and print publications with most being downloadable and free.
NC Catch Distributors of Wild Caught Seafood
NC Catch Distributors of Wild Caught Seafood - Help clients find wholesale and retail companies that distribute locally caught NC seafood throughout the state in this Sheet compiled by NC Catch and NC Growing Together.
Strategies to Increase Sales of Local Meats at Farm Stands and Small Retailers
Strategies to Increase Sales of Local Meats at Farm Stands and Small Retailers- Share this guide detailing key strategies to increase sales of local, pasture-raised meat at independent, small-scale
grocery retailers, and retail farm stands.
Tips for Produce Growers Marketing Fresh Produce to Retail Grocers
Tips for Produce Growers Marketing Fresh Produce to Retail Grocers - Understand PLU and UPC Codes used for tracking produce to control inventory and allowing retailers to efficiently ring up produce in the checkout line. Help your client be knowledgeable about labeling before approaching the retailer industry.
POST HARVEST & COLD STORAGE FOR THE PRODUCER
On Farm Infrastructure Toolkit
On-Farm Infrastructure Toolkit - Ensure your ag clients are not limited by a faulty understanding of postharvest requirements. Produced by NCGT and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the On-Farm Infrastructure Toolkit was created to address barriers, such as postharvest handling requirements, that can prevent producers from selling into larger markets; and to build produce growers’ capacity to cool, wash, cure and store produce on-farm.
On-Farm Cold Storage- Technical Assistance Training
On-Farm Cold Storage--Technical Assistance Training - This webinar covers cold storage considerations for produce and meats. Review and share with your clients so that they are aware of best practices.
Selling Produce to Distributors
Selling Produce to Distributors - Distributors are the middle man between farmers and consumers in the supply chain and allow farmers and producers to reach the business customers whether they are restaurants, grocery stores, catering companies, or institutions and corporate cafeterias. Determine if distribution is right for your client through guiding questions, notes, and tips. Understand the distributor’s timeline and learn when your client should approach a distributor, how to make the connection, and how to prepare to meet with the buyers. Help them understand how to navigate paperwork, establish a detailed order schedule, and set a transportation protocol.