Value Added Ag Annie’s Project Course Begins March 7

Annie's ProjectAMES, Iowa -- Another central Iowa value added agriculture course is coming to Ames this March. This special value added agriculture Annie’s Project course takes place in four, six-hour sessions. Course curriculum covers five areas of agricultural risk: financial, human resources, legal, marketing and production.

The Women Food and Ag Network is partnering with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Farm Credit Services of America and the United States Department of Agriculture to offer this course. The class will be taught over four weeks on Fridays, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 7, 14, 21 and 28, at the Des Moines Area Community College – Hunziker Center, 1420 S. Bell Ave. in Ames, Iowa. The registration cost is $75 and includes course materials and lunch each session.

Annie’s Project educators understand the necessity of growing and diversifying small, niche, beginning and value added agricultural businesses.  

“With the growth and emphasis on local foods, more people are interested in pursuing this segment of agricultural production,” said Marsha Laux, Annie’s Project state coordinator and program coordinator with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach's Value Added Agriculture Program. “This requires careful planning and using the right tools and strategies.”

In the Value Added Agriculture Annie’s Project course, women will learn more about:

  • Financial ratios, balance sheets, budgeting, enterprise analysis and business planning
  • Human resource management, communication styles and farm family insurance needs
  • Legal issues, estate laws, property title and employee requirements
  • Marketing plans, access to market information and direct marketing methods
  • Production tools, farmland leasing, USDA programs and niche production protocols

“By bringing local professionals into the classroom, women considering or involved in adding value to their on-farm production will develop new networks and be able to utilize new resources to grow their businesses,” said Margaret Smith, Annie’s Project educator and ISU Extension Value Added Agriculture Program Specialist. Besides presentations, there will be in-class activities and discussions based on participant questions, as well as follow-up activities to complete at home.

Those interested in the Value Added Agriculture Annie’s Project course can find more information and register online at, or contact Lani McKinney at the Value Added Agriculture office at 515-294-9483, or

“The Value Added Agriculture Annie’s Project course I took was especially nice because of its focus on small niche farms.  It wasn’t just focused on corn, soybeans, pigs and cows. The other people taking the class were in the same situation I was, so we could share with each other,” said Nicole Jonas, who operates Red Granite Farm with her young family in Boone, Iowa.

The course is part of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network “Harvesting Our Potential” program. Funding is provided by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2012-49400-19573. It is also part of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach USDA Risk Management Agency Community Partnership Grant # RMA-RPG05162.