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Extension > Small Farms News > February 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

Financial Benchmarks and Economic Impact of Local Food Operations

Source: Ryan Pesch, Extension Educator-Community Economics 

My co-author, Brigid Tuck, and I just released the following report on the economic contributions of small vegetable farms in the Central Region of the state. It is based on the 2014 financials of 11 farms which raise between 0.25 and 6 acres of mixed vegetables. 

Little data exist about mixed vegetable operations in Minnesota, so, although maybe not a perfect comparison to your own operation, please use these numbers as benchmarks against which to compare your own operation or for basic business planning for a new start up.

  1. The operations in the study gross $9,335 per acre in vegetable sales and retain $4,192, on average, after deducting annual cash expenses. 
  2. The lion’s share of vegetable sales (75%) comes from direct marketing channels, such as farmers markets, farm stands, and CSA arrangements. Wholesale marketing channels, however, account for 25% of total sales. 
  3. Measures of the economic impact of small-scale local farm operations indicate that small farms return $232,550 more to the local economy per million dollars of output than other forms of agriculture in the region. 
  4. Every $1,000,000 in output for small farms produces an additional $608,000 for the local economy, whereas conventional ag contributes $375,450 per million. The total impact of an estimated 65 small-scale vegetable farms in our 13-county study area brings in an estimated $1.1 million in wage and proprietor income.
Full report:

If you are in the Central region of the state (Stearns/Douglas north to Hubbard and East to Aitkin/Mille Lacs), we are conducting another round of this study about 2015 farm finances and are looking for operations which do some commercial mixed vegetable production. You will receive $75 stipend and individual data analysis and business coaching for your participation. Contact me with questions and how to get involved. Call 218-770-4398 or e-mail for additional information.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Living on the Land Workshop Series for Managing Your Rural Property or Small Farm

Do you dream of owning acreage in the country? Do you have an existing farm that is in need of a plan and strategies for the best possible results? The Living on the Land Workshop Series, offered by University of Minnesota Extension, will equip you with the education and resources to be successful.

The eight-week course is designed to provide rural landowners with information and resources to enable them to be good stewards of their land. The course will begin with goal-setting and individual property inventory, then address soil, plant, water and animal management basics.

The Living on the Land curriculum addresses a growing need for information regarding small acreages. The series incorporates knowledge and experience from a team of instructors to address topics including: what do you have and what do you want, what you can do with your land, protecting water quality, what to do about weeds, pasture management, getting down and dirty with soils, and caring for and managing your animals. The series also includes a farm tour.

The series will be taught by Extension educators and other subject matter experts at the Rogers Community Room, Rogers, MN, and the State Bank of New Prague, New Prague, MN. The series will be held 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday evenings in Rogers (Feb 24-April 13) and Tuesday evenings in New Prague (March 15-May 3). Light meals are provided at each session.

Early registration is $199 until Monday, February 22 for Rogers and Monday, March 14 for New Prague. All registrations received after those dates will be $209. Each registration is valid for up to two people representing a single farm who will share materials. For example, a husband and wife team or two siblings may attend together. Benefits include useful educational publications, an educational farm tour, soil test kit, a site visit/consultation from a University of Minnesota Extension educator in your area, as well as the tools to help you succeed with your goals and dreams on your country acreage.

For more information, please contact:

For Rogers:
Rod Greder at 763-682-7381,, or Karl Hakanson, 612-624-7948,

For New Prague:
Contact Abby Neu, 952-492-5386, or Karen Anderson, 507-332-6165,

Register today!
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