Helping you answer two key questions for small farm diversification

Helping you answer two key questions for small farm diversification

“DON’T PUT all of your eggs in the same basket.” The adage that originated in agriculture — the wise diversification advice applied most often to investment strategy — has come full circle in a big way. Diversity in financial investments and business services is a smart move, and so it is in the business of agriculture.

Too many things can go wrong to stake your entire income on a single commodity. That’s one reason for agricultural diversification. Another reason to diversify is simply to supply consumer demand for other products. Still another is to take advantage of new opportunities — like the citrus grower who starts a peach orchard or the blueberry grower who delves into blackberries.

Conveniently, the farmer, grower or rancher who wants to diversify his or her business doesn’t have to do a lot of homework to get started. Resources are as close by as your local extension office or your most handy connection to the Internet.

Once such resource is a leg of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Library website. It’s the Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, or AFSIC (http://afsic.nal.usda.gov). Among its many tools, tips, and links, this site points to a list of alternative crops and enterprises for small farm diversification. It helps to answer two key questions: 1) “What can alternative crops and enterprises do for my farm?” and 2) “Where can I find information on agricultural alternatives?”

In its list of farming and ranching options, the AFSIC site goes into detail with seven primary categories: Field Crops, Specialty and Ethnic Vegetables, Fruits and Nuts, Horticultural/Nursery, Agroforestry/Forest Products, Livestock/Animals, and Farm and Home Enterprises. Resource links include one to the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service.

If you’re seriously considering a launch into alternative crops or agricultural enterprises, the AFSIC site is a must-have addition to your Web browser bookmarks.

CREDIT

column by BAXTER TROUTMAN

BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Arcadia. A citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.