Using an Extraordinary Combination of In-person Education and Distance Learning to Help Women Producers Create Business

Thursday, July 25, 2013: 8:30 AM
Desert Salon 13-14 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Robin G. Brumfield , Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Jenny Carleo , Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Cape May Courthouse, NJ
Jeff Heckman , Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
April Lippet-Faczak , Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Jennifer Matthews , Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Cape May Court House, NJ
Meredith Melendez , Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County, Trenton, NJ
Barbara O'Neill , Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Nicholas Polanin , Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Bridgewater, NJ
It is a little known fact that the majority of women in agriculture do not have business plans. When women farmers were surveyed in New Jersey, only 2 out of 137 farm women had current business plans for their agricultural enterprises. Whether they are partners or sole proprietors, it is evident that women need to be more aware of the importance of the business and financial management components that impact the very success of their farms. Our Women in Agriculture program—Annie’s Project New Jersey—created a comprehensive educational program and support network for women farmers that educated them about understanding and managing their farm businesses with a focus on farm and family financial management. The primary goal was to provide a collaborative outreach and assistance program for traditionally underserved farmers (women) in throughout New Jersey and across the mid-Atlantic region.  A unique combination of in-person meetings and distance-learning technology was utilized to deliver the program via webinars, webcams, and wireless microphones to "connect" 75 women and 24 presenters in three locations across New Jersey.  Participants (n = 42) out of the 137 women in the Annie's Project New Jerseyprograms 2011–12 were surveyed within a year after the coursework to determine adoption of business practices that would help to improve their farm business operations.  Results indicated that 97% developed a mission statement; 92% developed their business description; 64% wrote a farm description to be used for marketing (or another purpose); 70% developed a management plan; and 68% developed a production plan.  In addition, several participants have used their business plans as part of their applications for funding from the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). In total, 70 of the 137 women competed business plans as a result of the course. The live sessions were broadcast and recorded each week, allowing women to watch a lecturer from over 100 miles away as well as the opportunity to watch the video again. Once the "live" course was completed, these videos, handouts, and Power Point Presentations were archived online under the Resources and Articles tab on the Annie’s Project New Jersey website: There they remain available to anyone to view to broaden their knowledge on a specific topic or learn something new about successful agricultural business management practices.
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