Growing Iowa Farmers

From the Ground Up: Creating a Plan to Grow Your Farm Business

From the Ground Up is an 8-week course to help farmers develop their business strategy for their farming operation. Attendees include aspiring, new, young, and established farmers who want to learn more about assessing their current farm position and develop a business plan. Become part of this learning community in central Iowa—share experiences: pitfalls and success strategies with fellow farmers.

Farmers who take this course will:

  • Complete a written business plan to help guide the next three to five years of their farming start-up or ongoing operation
  • Show a clear path to growth and profit for their business
  • Receive peer and professional reviews of their plan
  • Be prepared to present their farm business plan to family members and lenders


Monday evenings
5:30 p.m. Evening meal (provided)
6:00–9:00 p.m. Coursework

Program Topics

February 8: Clarifying your values—matching values with your business ideas, goal development. Why plan your business? If I had known then what I know now.

February 15: Assessing your current farm position—financial and other resources. Financial documents to know and love. Strengths and opportunities for your farm.

February 22: Marketing and pricing—who, what, where, when, why. Enterprise budgeting and planning.

February 29: Effective management. Farm records for building the business. Creating cash flow projections for the next several years.

March 7: Operations—planning production and production records.Who does what—hiring and managing workers.

March 14: Value added and niche production protocols. Accessing capital—what your lender wants to know. Accessing land.

March 21 and 28: Course participant business plan presentations with peer and professional feedback.


Sponsored by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, grant award number 2015-70017-23960. Initial curriculum development provided by Colorado State University and ‘Building Farmers in the West’ program. The course, From the Ground Up, is cosponsored by the Iowa State University Beginning Farmer Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Value Added Agriculture Program.