Farming Alternatives: A Guide to Evaluating the Feasibility of New Farm-Based Enterprises

Publication Number: NRAES-32
Cost: $15.00
Length: 88 pages
ISBN: 0-935817-14-X

This publication was awarded a blue ribbon in the 1989 ASAE Educational Aids Competition.

This book assists rural and farm residents who are considering alternative enterprises. The case study and workbook format helps in evaluating personal and family considerations, resources, market potential, production feasibility, profitability, cash flow, and all factors combined. The guidebook also offers research sources for enterprise ideas. Each chapter includes exercises, self-tests, checklists, and worksheets that allow the reader to analyze an enterprise idea. (1988)

A guidebook is available to assist rural and farm residents who are considering alternative enterprises. Farming Alternatives: A Guide to Evaluating the Feasibility of New Farm-Based Enterprises, NRAES-32, takes the reader through a step-by-step analysis of a potential new business. The guidebook uses a case study and workbook format to evaluate personal and family considerations, available resources, alternative enterprise options, market potential, production feasibility, profitability, cash flow, and a final evaluation of all factors combined. In addition to providing a format for evaluating an alternative enterprise, the guidebook provides sources of information for specific materials.

Starting a new venture requires resources, careful management, hard work, and risk. Before committing time and resources to an enterprise, it is important to look at the feasibility of the idea on paper. Each chapter of Farming Alternatives includes exercises-self-tests, checklists, and work sheets-that allow the reader to analyze an enterprise idea and build business management skills. The reader will take an inventory to identify underutilized resources that can be used in a new enterprise, perform market research to determine who will buy a product or service, and plan the production aspects of the enterprise. An income statement and cash flow analysis will be prepared to determine profitability and the financial feasibility of starting and operating the enterprise. The guidebook even explains how to combine the documents to present a proposal to a lender.

Many extension agents and other educators have expressed an interest in organizing workshops for farm and rural families interested in-but not necessarily experienced in-alternative enterprises. Farming Alternatives works well as a textbook for an in-depth workshop series, as a framework for one-on-one counseling, and as a resource for the reader to use on his or her own. The guidebook is being successfully used as a teaching tool by Cooperative Extension agents.

Farming Alternatives was written by Nancy Grudens Schuck, formerly of Cooperative Extension, Cornell University; Wayne Knoblauch, Agricultural, Resource, and Managerial Economics, Cornell University; Judy Green, Farming Alternatives Program, Cornell University; and Mary Saylor, Extension Education, The Pennsylvania State University.

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