“Plan for Success,” an in-depth business development program to assist farmers, ranchers and other growers, will be held at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort Feb. 25-27 and March 4.

Abbie Phillip, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County/MSU Extension Agent, said it's designed to promote local agriculture and food entrepreneurism through business education and networking.

The workshop, to help those interested in business start-up, expansion, or transitioning to direct market sales, will focus on writing a business plan, marketing, and operations; the third day will include a tour of a local indoor grower’s operation. After a week-long break for participants to do homework, they’ll return for safe food handling, risk management and mentor networking.

Phillip said agricultural entrepreneurism includes a broad array of growers and producers involved in ornamental plants, nursery stock, seeds/seedlings, unprocessed whole foods, fiber, bio-fuel mass, or value-added products like cut flowers, baked goods, soap, sausage, beer, cheese and preserved foods.

Two important economic contributions of ag and food entrepreneurism are jobs creation and local spending, Phillip said.

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The Montana Food and Agricultural Development Centers, like the FADC located at Headwaters RC&D in Butte, have leveraged investment funds for development of local food and Ag-based businesses, helped to bring new products to market and created/retained jobs in our communities.

Although commodity production drives the state’s agriculture industry, an increasing number of individuals are growing specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, peas, lentils, nursery stock and adding value to the products grown and raised in Montana.

Ag and food businesses are helping to solve household food insecurity by supplying and distributing healthy, high quality food with less waste. The brewing and distilling industry, based on Montana grain and fruit production, is expanding, creating revenues and jobs.

The Planning For Success workshop is presented by MSU Extension, Headwaters RC&D, National Center for Appropriate Technology, the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, and the Community Food and Agricultural Coalition of Missoula.

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