By TIM HEARDEN

Capital Press

A University of California Web site has been launched to help owners of small- to mid-sized growers of fresh products with business and marketing.

The site covers various factors of successful farming, including budgeting, managing cash flow, targeting particular segments of the market and satisfying customers.

The project aims to give farmers a one-stop venue for gathering information about the business side of agriculture, said Laura Tourte, the UC Cooperative Extension's county director and farm management advisor in Watsonville, Calif.

"We get a lot of comments from small farmers, beginning farmers and people that have inherited land and want to farm, about a variety of things related to farming," said Tourte, who developed the site.

"This goal ... was to try and pull everything together in one site so a prospective farmer or a farmer who's currently in business and wanting to enhance and strengthen their knowledge and skills can go find a wide variety of information," she said.

Farmers typically get into the industry because they like to grow crops and work outside, but the business aspects are critical to their survival, Tourte said.

The Web site's primary focus is farming on California's Central Coast, but the site can be useful to "a broad cross-section of people" throughout the West, she said.

One feature is a listing of government programs that have some kind of interaction with agriculture, whether it be from a regulatory standpoint or for the purpose of assisting farmers, she said.

For now, the resources on the site are written, but the site's next phase will include slide shows and videos for users who prefer presentation-style information, according to a news release. Materials will also be made available in Spanish and other languages, Tourte said.

The UC has long offered Web sites that provide research information and advice on the production side of agriculture. The financial site has been operational for a couple of months and is receiving positive reviews, Tourte said.

"I am hoping to get more response back from folks using the site," she said. "I'm really pleased with it. ... It's really meant to cut down on the amount of time farmers use searching for information on the Internet."

Online

University of California Farm Business and Market Place: http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/farmbusinessandmarketplace

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