Farm conference to include business workshops

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Tending a farm is all about growing food and raising animals. But success in agriculture also depends on having a good business sense and protecting growing assets. This weekend’s PlacerGrown Food and Farm Conference has that in mind, offering workshops covering tax planning, insurance and farm liability and developing a business plan. Roger Ingram, University of California Cooperative Extension Placer-Nevada County director and farm adviser, said he’s seeing a real need for business planning in the agriculture community as well as learning how to qualify for loans to expand. “I think people need to have an understanding, if they’re making money or not, what enterprises are working or not working,” Ingram said. “They need to stop doing things that aren’t working and put more energy into what’s working, or fix what’s not working.” The conference workshop on insurance will be given by Paul Harrison and Cynthia Elkins of Placer West Insurance Services in Lincoln. They’ll discuss the need for liability insurance, amount needed and managing risk on agricultural property. For example, a homeowner’s policy doesn’t normally cover horses, cows or other large animals. “There’s big liability with big animals,” Elkins explained, “in cases such as if the animal gets out on the road and someone hits it and gets injured or killed, or if someone comes on the property and gets injured by the animal, or if animals get lose and cause damage at a show (or other public event).” Even growers who sell produce at a stand on their property or on the roadside need liability coverage, Elkins said. Another business-related workshop will be provided by Kendra Johnson, California FarmLink, who will discuss development of a business plan. Dixie Chan of Dixie Chan Tax Services in Lincoln will discuss gathering information for tax returns, record keeping, completing Schedule F, depreciation rules, definition of income and expense and hobby loss rules. The annual conference is a joint effort of the University of California Cooperative Extension, PlacerGrown and the Placer County Agricultural Marketing Program. The program includes keynote speaker Lynn Miller, publisher of the Small Farmer’s Journal, and more than 25 workshops covering agriculture and farming topics. In addition to Saturday’s conference, Ingram is also coordinating a business-planning course for farmers and ranchers to be held in February. The six-week course, to meet weekly, will cover a wide range of topics, among them identifying and allocating resources, production costs and marketing plans. “Too often, for farmers and ranchers, it’s a way of life,” Ingram said. “They love being outdoors. It’s hard work, but they love it. However, the business side can be neglected. We felt a need to provide this training to (established) farmers and ranchers as well as to new growers and even interns to help them establish goals and show what they can do to achieve them.” Another important aspect is networking. “Someone from livestock may hear something from farming they wouldn’t have thought of,” Ingram said. “It is that sharing and offering assistance that really is the strength of the course, in addition to the tools they learn.” Gloria Young can be reached at ---------- PlacerGrown Food and Farm Conference 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 Lincoln High School, 790 J St., Lincoln For more information and registration, see, e-mail or call (530) 889-7398, Farm business-planning classes 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, Feb. 11 to March 18 11477 E Ave., North Auburn Cost: $30 per farm or ranch Fee includes course materials and business planning spreadsheets Deadline for registration is Feb. 8