Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Farmer Toolkit: Appropriate Scale

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Evaluating the appropriate scale for your business – From scaling up to maintaining one- or two-person operations, these resources should help you evaluate the appropriate scale for your business.

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Assessing Scaling Up

Enterprise Budgets

Market Sizing and Market Channel Assessment


MOFGA Farm Beginnings – A major component of this course is evaluating your quality of life needs, holistic context, and the appropriate scale for your farm or food business.

Holistic Management International – Holistic Management is a value-based decision-making framework that integrates all aspects of planning for social, economic and environmental considerations. The USDA recognizes this key regenerative agriculture tool as critical in helping farmers and ranchers develop successful businesses as well as improve land health so that they can continue to support their communities with quality food.

Popular books on appropriate scaling and achieving a profitable farm business include these:

The Lean Farm – Ben Hartman

Market Farming Success – Lynn Byczynski

Farms with a Future – Rebecca Thistlethwaite

The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook – Richard Wiswall

The New Organic Grower – Eliot Coleman

Assessing Scaling Up

ATTRAScaling Up Your Vegetable Farm for Regional Markets – This publication helps farmers decide if they are ready to expand their operations to serve wholesale markets or produce more for direct markets. It addresses important considerations such as land, labor, food safety, marketing and insurance.

ATTRAScaling Up for Regional Markets Online Tutorial (Livestock Production Included) – Scaling up for regional markets often refers to an increase in the amount of land in production, herd size, enterprises or markets. This tutorial provides lessons and information for farmers who have success in smaller and more direct marketing channels and who are interested in expanding their operations to meet a growing demand for local food.

Organic Enterprise Budgets

Maine and Organic Specific

MOFGA Carrot Enterprise Budgets – Four MOFGA-certified organic farmers helped develop these budgets.

Organic Spring and Winter Wheat Enterprise Budgets – Developed by UMaine Cooperative Extension in 2011.

Maine Maple Syrup Production Costs (NOT organic specific) – A great resource and template despite not being specific to organic syrup production. Developed by UMaine.

MOFGA Blueberry Leaf Enterprise Budgets – Six producers of organic, wild blueberries contributed to this pilot budgeting project.

Blueberry Leaf Dried Only EB.pdf (48K download)

Blueberry Leaf Dried & Cleaned EB.pdf (50K download)

Organic Enterprise Budgets

Richard Wiswall – Wiswall's book "The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook" comes with a CD that has several benchmark/customizable organic enterprise budgets for a large variety of market farm produce crops. Additionally, you can download the free NOFA Enterprise Analysis Workbook that Wiswall developed for NOFA by clicking on the link to develop your own budgets.

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association – CFSA offers 10 benchmark organic produce enterprise budgets in both Word and Excel that are also customizable.

Rutgers – Rutgers has organic enterprise budgets for field crops, apples, a variety of produce and a few livestock enterprises (dairy goats and spring lamb).

Other Enterprise Evaluation Tools

Iowa State University Produce Profitability Calculator – This online calculator can compare two production scenarios at one time and any number of variables: current and expanded production levels, increased acreage in produce, existing and modified marketing plans or changes in pricing structures. For the online guide to using the tool, follow this link.

Univ. of California Cooperative Extension Crop Profitability Calculator – This downloadable tool allows you to take a closer look at up to 10 row crops. The end result will help you find weak links in your production and identify profitable crops. A "Scenarios Tool" is available to look at different production scale and pricing models.

Univ. of Vermont Cooperative Extension Real Farm Examples of Farm Budgets – These budgets include example planting and harvesting spreadsheets, CSA crop planning and farm budgets, and recordkeeping for both retail- and wholesale-focused farm businesses.

Veggie Compass – Veggie Compass is a farm management tool for diversified fresh market vegetable growers. The Veggie Compass spreadsheet requires farmers to enter financial, labor and sales data, creating a holistic picture of their farm financials. The tool can also be used to predict the financial impact of different farm scenarios for the future and to assess the farm’s financial progress.

Market Sizing and Market Channel Assessment

MOFGA Market Sizing Step-by-Step Guide – Establishing the size of a potential market for your products is an important component of many business plans and can help a food business establish realistic sales goals. We have converted a PowerPoint presentation to a PDF with links to resources that can make this process more doable and accurate for organic producers.

Example 2 Spreadsheet

Bottom-up Sizing for Wholesale – Market sizing for producers focused on wholesale markets can be a little different. These two spreadsheets can help with this process.

Bottom-up Sizing Spreadsheet

Bottom-up Sizing Example

Cornell Cooperative Extension Market Channel Assessment – Like enterprise budgeting for production analysis, market channel assessment allows producers to assess which marketing opportunities represent the best profit potential and lifestyle fit. Cornell offers a variety of resources to help agricultural and food entrepreneurs go through their own market channel assessment.

Short overview version (slides)

Long version (38 page PDF)

Online video with MCAT author Matthew LeRoux

MCAT spreadsheet for livestock producers