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School Business Project!

Hey yall, my name is JT and Im a junior at Winthrop University in South Carolina. I have been given an assignment for my Major in Business to create my own business plan with no restrictions on what business. So I have chosen to write my business plan on my dream of being a fresh market grower / commercial grower. My family has always grown a garden and sold our excess, and I would love to do it as a business.

 

I have budgets for every fresh market fruit/vegitable you can imagine from UGA and Clemson, as well as operating cost budgets for machinery, building and irrigation budgets.

 

So if anyone can help me out with how to contact any potential commercial buyers of tomatos, watermelons, sweet potatos, and so on I would appreciate it because the more information I can get on market entry and demand for the produce would be extremely benneficial.

 

Also, I am making 3 start-up budgets. One for extreme low-cost, where I only buy the seed, seedlings and fertilizer needed and use my existing equipment. Another for a minimal-cost budget with some machinery increseas, a commercial sized walk-in freezer, used delivery truck and possibly larger tractor/implements. And finally the No-Limits budget, which is the fun one because it's all new tractor and implements, a high horsepower tractor setup for the commercial sized felds of potatos/melons/tomatos and such as well as buying seedlings of Peaches, Blueberries and what not.

 

I believe I have all of the possible machinery costs covered on these budgets with tractorhouse and craigslist, but I don't really know where I would find prices for bulk orders of the fruit plantings so anyone who could help me there I would be very appreciative. Also, if anyone has any opinions on the best 250-300hp tractor (All out budget) I'll take suggestions. Im pretty partial to Massey Ferguson because we have a 65 diesel, 1135, and all massey implements from when my pawpaw farmed in the 60s-80s, but I have no clue about the new high hp tractors because everyone here is Case or JD and some New Holland which wins on looks for me.

 

So any comments, suggestions, referrals or any help at all on anything I asked or didnt ask would be greatly appreciated. Thank You!!

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12 Replies
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Honored Advisor

Re: School Business Project!

Back up the truck, and make sure you have addressed all the inputs required by the new Food Safety Modernization Act. FSMA is said to be a regulatory ($$$$$ yo comply) nightmare, by my friends in produce production.
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Re: School Business Project!

Thank you, thats something I actually never heard of so this should add some fun to the project  Smiley Frustrated

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Friend

Re: School Business Project!

Www.growcharlotte.com has a list of distributors and restaurants in Charlotte region that want to offer all or mostly local produce. "The Yolk" (Mt. Gallant Road, off Cherry) in RH is on the list-- might be worth talking to chef to see what his margins have to be to become your customer. BTW, The Yolk is on Facebook. best wishes-- better hurry, finals are soon! ;-)
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Senior Contributor

Re: School Business Project!

Not sure if it's FSMA, Kay is talking about, but regulation has put my cousins out of the produce business. Seems they were kind of caught between part time and big time
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Re: School Business Project!

Thanks for the link!! it's actually not due until next year, we just got an early start in the intro class.

 

And Yea i would definitely have to call some regulatory agencies for some literature to do this plan thoroughly.

It seems like a lot of times if you're going to farm it has to be a full time career or else it just won't work.

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Senior Contributor

Re: School Business Project!

Grain farming is probably the easiest to keep a off the farm job. I grew up raising tobacco, tough with a job. Had cattle, also tough with a job, cousins had vegetables tough with a job. Now I only have a few cows and concentrate on grain and it's by far the easiest when you have a off the farm job. I realize this doesn't help with your project. I'm just providing some perspective.
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Honored Advisor

Re: School Business Project!

Calls are sort of a time-wasting antiquation, with everything online now. Just Google USDA and search for FSMA. What you most likely find, in terms of regulatory compliance, is that your lowest-end operation will not meet the threshhold for safety in food to be sold to the public.

The costs for compliance also tend to add extensive record-keeping, which is extra labor/ management, without any return for that expense. One friend of mine who was high up in the NCDA, used to say that every truly successful farming operation he knew of had one member dedicated to interacting with all of this stuff, plus things like liability insurance and administration in general, so that everyone else could concentrate on production. We called that stuff collectively "The World", as in, I deal with The World, so my husband and daughter can focus on the herd.

Your state's department of ag is also a good resource. There is usually some specialist in produce, who could really help flesh out the marketing part. If you have production, marketing - and that includes a LOT of the compliance issues now - and then layer on The World, that means adding in cost lines for things that manage risk.

Specifically, this can mean a product liability insurance policy. Many farmers' markets require these, some in the multi-million dollar range, with the market named as an " additional insured". Contact some of your potential markets for their policies. Buyers like stores may have similar requirements, too.

Start a file or binder, print out the info you learn, and organize it around these principles: production budget/marketing budget, and allocate these compliance and risk management expenses accordingly. That would be my suggestion.

Final thoughts: You are approaching the high season for farmers markets. Realize your cash flow may well be very seasonal, but this is when you can do a ton of real world research. Get out there and shop for some tomatoes. Better yet, watch and notice niches, like ethnic populations whose likes are underserved. That is very location- dapendent.

Technology is an important aspect, too. Some markets have qualified for accepting SNAP/ EBT, others have not. That may be important where you live. Taking credit and debit card payments can be as simple as a smartphone app these days, I think. Might give you an edge. Learn about sales tax exemptions and requirements in your area, too.

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Honored Advisor

Re: School Business Project!

Talking to my produce friends, FSMA has that potential.  It is what happened in hogs in the last two decades, largely, too. 

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Re: School Business Project!

This project keeps getting more and more complex but at least it will help me on the decision to carry out this dream of mine.

I looked up FSMA and dear lord what a long and complicated law. I'll start going from farm to farm for tips as well and at school we have a program called ARC-GIS that I can use for marketing research.
I thought I was fairly in depth with this plan but it sounds like I only scratched the surface.
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