Increasing Information and Decision Tools for Alternative Enterprises

Craig A. Chase, Farm & Ag. Business Management Field Specialist

POW Number & Title:
127 - USDA and state farm programs education

Fiscal Year Submitted:

Increasing Information and Decision Tools for Alternative Enterprises

An increasing number of existing and potential farmers in Iowa are looking at organic and vegetable production as possible alternatives to conventional agriculture.  Enough information and decision tools must be available in order to make an informed decision on whether these alternatives make economic sense.

To help answer some of the economic questions, a series of information files, budgets, and decision tools have been created and made available through the Iowa State University Agricultural Decision Maker website.  These files, budgets, and tools cover topics such as how to choose among alternatives, developing and using whole-farm and enterprise records, making the transition to organics, pricing for profit, and a series of vegetable and organic budgets.

From March 08 to February 10, more than 45,000 information file and decision tool downloads occurred.   A little over half of the total downloads have been the various vegetable and organic budgets.  Downloads for general categories have been as follows:

Information files                              18,643
Vegetable budgets                         18,256
Organic budgets                                 6,135
Decision tools                                     2,067
Total downloads                              45,101

In addition to the information files, budgets, and decision tools, at least 8-10 presentations were made by Extension each year outlining the information in the files, budgets, and tools.  Feedback from the participants indicated the educational materials were well-received.  Some of the specific quotes indicated participants plan to:

Keep track of time & costs of production.
Evaluate products and choose the right mix of products.
Price according to costs plus a profit margin.
Price for real profit, develop budgets for my signature crops & network with others.

ISU Extension is increasing information files and decision tools available to those existing and new producers who want to look at alternatives to conventional agriculture. With added information, informed decisions can be made to determine if any of the alternatives make economic sense.  If interested in learning more about economics of organics or vegetable production, contact Craig Chase at 319-238-2997 or (


127 - USDA and state farm programs education

Page last updated: July 21, 2010
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