Resilient Farms Conference

Resilient Farms Conference Will Help Farmers Explore Ideas for Creating New Revenue

Trisha Wagner, UW-Extension Farm Management Program, trisha.wagner@ces.uwex.edu

Faced with lower milk and commodity prices, many Wisconsin farmers are looking to diversify and add new revenue streams. Towards that end, Compeer Financial and University of Wisconsin-Extension have planned to host the Resilient Farms Conference, a one-day conference for farmers interested in exploring new business ideas for their farms. At the conference, scheduled Tuesday, Dec. 11 at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells, farmers will have an opportunity to attend two dozen sessions to gather information, resources and tools that can help them explore potential new revenue streams. About 20 industry experts, including many farmers who have successfully implemented alternative enterprises, also will be available for one-on-one consultations.

Rebecca Binsfeld, client education consultant with Compeer Financial, said in addition to helping with “idea generation,” attendees will be able to connect with resources and tools to help evaluate shifts in business models and revenue streams. “A wide range of experts will be available for consultations during the day and for post-event follow up,” said Binsfeld. “Creating alternate farm revenue streams isn’t a one-day process and analyzing the business, financial and market components are a key next step.  Creating relationships with these resources and team members will ease the uncertainly that can revolve around business change.”

The goal of the conference is to provide ideas and resources to farmers and producers interested in starting something new and diversifying their revenue stream.  “It’s planned as a farmer-to-farmer, peer-to-peer opportunity for farmers who are brainstorming or exploring ideas for additional revenue for their farm, many of which may already have worked successfully for their peers,” Trisha Wagner, UW-Extension Farm Management Program.

Session topics will include value-added production ideas, marketing and business strategies, business planning and analysis, and guides to regulatory and licensing processes.

“Hearing new ideas gets you energized and conference attendees will a huge variety of sessions to attend at which various ideas will be discussed. Hopefully, many will come away with new revenue-enhancing ideas for their own farms.”

Possible options include:

  • Value-added processing for dairy;
  • Adding a Community Supported Agriculture component;
  • Raising and direct-marketing beef or chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, etc.;
  • Earning income from woodlands (i.e. mushrooms, hazelnuts, maple syrup, etc.);
  • Adding a Farm to Institution component;
  • Adding specialty crops (Christmas trees, grapes, hops, cut flowers for market or retail)
  • Hemp production;
  • Exploring energy-production options for the farm;
  • Adding an agri-tourism component: (i.e. Air BnB farm stays, barn or farm weddings, U-Pick, family events, petting zoos, pumpkin patches, fall harvest tours), etc.

“These are challenging times for agriculture, and farmers realize that amongst the challenges, there is often opportunity,” said Trisha Wagner, “Farmers are trying new ideas for their business, utilizing resources in a different way, employing the skills of family members that haven’t been realized in the past.  The Resilient Farms Conference is an opportunity to hear from farmers from around the state who have learned how to navigate the times, and have created success.”

The December 11 conference is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Wilderness Resort. The registration fee is $20, which includes lunch. To register or for more information, go to: Resilient Farms Conference.