Introduction to Whole Farm Planning: Combining Family, Profit and Environment

DIY Guide

Author(s): David Mulla, Les Everett and Gigi DiGiacomo

Organization: Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture

Planning Step: Goals and Resources

This DIY Whole Farm Planning Guide was developed in collaboration with farm families in Minnesota facing tough questions:

  • Should I expand my livestock operations?
  • Would direct marketing or a value-added enterprise work with my farm?
  • How can we bring a son or daughter into the business?
  • How can I spend more time with my family?
  • How can we increase community respect for our farm and agriculture?

After struggling with these questions and others, several Minnesota farm families heard about Whole Farm Planning and used the concepts to alter their farm management, bringing more financial stability, improved stewardship, and a better quality of life for their families. Whole Farm Planning can be used by the farm family to balance the quality of life they desire with the farm’s resources, the need for production and profitability, and long-term stewardship. How is Whole Farm Planning different from the planning you already do on your farm? Most farmers do some kind of planning on their farms nearly every day. Whole Farm Planning is distinct from other farm planning approaches because it ties all the planning you do together for the whole farm and bases it on the long-term vision your family has for itself in the future. It is farmer-controlled, voluntary, and flexible. The plans are owned by the farmer, and the information contained in the plans is confidential. Benefits of Whole Farm Planning include maintaining or improving profitability while enhancing sustainability. Whole Farm Planning can also lead to protection and enhancement of the quality of soil, water, and other natural resources on and near the farm. More importantly, the planning process helps the farm family define long- and short-term goals, which lead to an improved quality of life and a better relationship with the community.

Relevant Region(s): All | Farm Scale: All | Farm Type: All | Markets: All