Starting A Farming Business? UF/IFAS Hosts Virtual English And Spanish Workshops For Beginners


Florida farming is big business.

To make it in today’s competitive market, those new to the industry need a solid business plan and the right marketing tactics to build a business from the ground up.

“Agricultural operations, regardless of the size, need a roadmap to provide a sense of direction toward profitability,” said Jonael Bosques-Mendez, a UF/IFAS Extension agricultural agent and UF/IFAS Extension director for Hardee County. “Without a business plan, it is very difficult to assess if the decisions you are making will ultimately lead to success.”

That is why the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension is offering online workshops to teach the basics of planning, implementing and building a farm operation for newcomers venturing into agriculture. Instructors will deliver the workshops in English and Spanish.

Farmers working in greenhouse at Harpke Family Farms.

Farmers working in greenhouse at Harpke Family Farms. Credit: Lourdes Mederos, UF/IFAS

“Farming is a Business” is designed for entrepreneurs interested in starting a farm business and for new farmers looking to expand their operations. The session will take place on April 18, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Registration deadline is April 15. A Spanish version of the workshop, “La Agricultura es un Negocio”, is planned for May 2, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Registration deadline is April 29.

The cost for each workshop is $10 with materials included. Registration is required for each. Seating is limited to 25 registrants for each workshop.

UF/IFAS agriculture experts will provide resources and step-by-step instructions on building a comprehensive business plan. Those include company descriptions, marketing, operational, human resources and financial planning.

“Farmers deal with many uncertainties. Among these are variable climatic patterns, pests and diseases, clientele preferences and fluctuating market prices that affect the value of the commodities they are growing in their fields,” said Bosques-Mendez. “A sound business plan can help producers have a clear picture of how much they will be spending before they plant, during the growing season, after the product leaves the field and ultimately the consumer’s tables.”

Small scale garden plot.

Small scale garden plot farming. Credit: UF/IFAS

With 44,000 farming operations covering 9.7 million acres in the Sunshine State, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, these farms contribute more than $160 million to the state’s economy. They produce a wide range of commodities and products, provide jobs and a stable income.

Yet U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two to three years, said Luis Rodriguez Rosado, a UF/IFAS small farms Extension agent for Polk County, who will serve as an instructor along with Bosques.

“Farmers are particularly vulnerable to failure as they are often knowledgeable in crop management but lack resources or experience managing businesses,” said Rosado. “Because of this, farmers seek resources to help them make good business decisions in farm management.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, consumer preferences for food products have evolved, and there is now a growing demand for locally, sustainably produced goods, organic or otherwise, that are of the highest quality.

Simultaneously, those venturing into agriculture are becoming more interested in small-scale farming across Florida to meet consumer demands for a variety of niche commodities and services.

In 2020, U.S. farmers made $9 billion in direct food sales, an increase of 3% from 2015. Direct food sales in the Southeast accounted for just 7% of these sales or $609 million. Florida was the only state in the Southeast that made it to the top 10 of direct food sales with $247 million, 41% of the region’s total, according to a 2022 USDA report.


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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.  |  @UF_IFAS

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