Federal grants reduce costs, help fund video tools
By MATTHEW WEAVER
A three-month Washington State University Extension class will help farmers in the northeastern part of the state develop a business plan, which is becoming a necessity to apply for federal programs.
The agricultural entrepreneur business class will be 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays from Jan. 10 through March 27.
Pat Munts, small farms and acreage coordinator with WSU Spokane County Extension, said the class helps farmers develop a business plan using market research, bookkeeping and record-keeping skills.
"A lot of federal programs are beginning to ask farmers if they have a business plan before they can even start qualifying," she said. "It gives them a much clearer picture of where their costs and revenues are and how in-line or out-of-line those are with each other."
Munts hopes to build on the small farmer network and make connections between producers. She said she hopes to take the class to less-accessible areas.
"You get the remote counties and it's either hard to get a class big enough or to get speakers to go that far north," she said.
The course will be offered by video link from Spokane Community College to Institute for Extended Learning education centers in Republic, Colville and Newport, Wash.
Munts hopes for a total of 30 participants in the class. A USDA Risk Management Agency grant is helping fund technology for video conferencing and to reduce the cost of the course from $191 to $141.
The course will primarily be taught by Spokane Community College Integrated Business and Entrepreneurship Program adjunct instructor Bill Powers with other speakers, Munts said.
She recommends the course to small producers.
The class is part of the Cultivating Success program developed by WSU and the University of Idaho to provide producers with learning opportunities to improve their business-planning and decision-making skills.
For more information, contact Pat Munts at 509-477-2173 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For registration information, call Spokane Community College at 509-533-8010. Registration deadline is Jan. 3.