Thank you to all of our presenters, panelists and participants who made our 2017 workshops a success! We plan to offer the series again next year. If you are interested in having the workshop series take place in your community, contact or your local extension office.

Learn more about the series below. We’ll see you next year!


Are you trying to start a farm or ranch business in Montana? Maybe you’d like to add a new, direct-market enterprise to your operation to increase your business. Planning For On-Farm Success teaches you the business skills you need to succeed. Learn how to evaluate new markets, track financial information and use it to make decisions, access the right financing for your business, and manage the risks in your operation. You will receive expert instruction by presenters from the Montana university system as well as networking and Q&A with experienced producers, lenders, and ag professionals in your community. You will receive a copy of the Planning for On-Farm Success workbook and get hands-on support working on your own plans as you complete the course.

To obtain Farm Service Agency borrower financial management training credit, you must attend the workshops on Managing Your Financials and Financial Decision-Making. For more info on FSA credit, email

Check out the links below to learn more about the curriculum and sign up for the workshop series in your community!


2017 WOrkshop Schedule and Presenters

Workshops will be offered on Wednesdays from 5:30-8:30 pm.

Farm Strategic Planning – January 18th

Topics: Walks through the process of identifying goals and values for your operation and getting the basics of a plan on paper.

Presenters: Seth Swanson, Missoula County Horticulture Extension Agent, and Annie Heuscher, Program Director, Community Food and Agriculture Coalition will draw on years of experience in agriculture and business development to demonstrate how to chart a steady course for business success.

Researching Your Market – January 25th

Topics: Think about your target customer and ways you can get your product to them.

Presenter: Justin Angle is a Professor at the University of Montana School of Business Administration. His research areas include branding, identity and unconscious effects of marketing on attitude and behavior. His presentations will teach ways to assess your markets and promote your products to maximize profits.

Farm Marketing & Promotion – February 1st

Topics: Think about what makes your product unique, how to share that with your customers and how to set the right price for your customers and your business.

Presenter: Justin Angle, detailed above, will return to instruct these marketing topics.

Managing Your Financials – February 8th

Topics: Understand what the numbers are that you need to be tracking and learn about the key documents that help you do track information effectively. This workshop is eligible for FSA financial management borrower training credit and will include information on income statements, balance sheets, cash flow budgets, and how to maintain and utilize these systems.

Presenter: Marguerite Thordarson, Business & Financial Consultant at the Blackstone Launchpad and Aimee Roberts, Relationship Manager at Northwest Farm Credit will teach participants how to successfully track financial information and use it to make powerful decisions about their farms and profits. Marguerite specializes in providing business consulting services to startups in Montana. Aimee works directly with farmers and ranchers to assess their financial picture, access capital and build their businesses over time.

Financial Decision-Making – February 15th

Topics: Using all the information from the last workshop you will learn the tools that are used to make smart business decisions and how they will affect your bottom line. This workshop is eligible for FSA financial management borrower training credit and will include information on using your financials to make financial and production decisions as well as how to describe your business goals, changes required to attain those goals, and how those changes will occur using present and projected budgets.

Presenter: Marguerite Thordarson will return to talk about financial ratios that are used to assess the state of your business and how to use partial budgets to project the profitability of a new enterprise.

Financing Your Farm – February 22nd

Topics: Learn about the different types of financing that are available and the best time to access them over the establishment and growth of your business. Learn how to prepare for a visit with your lender and ask questions of lenders in your community.

Presenters: Marguerite Thordarson and Aimee Roberts, detailed above, will describe the phases of farm and ranch business startup and the best ways to access capital at each step of the way. Local agents will talk about federal and state programs that have been most beneficial to farmers and ranchers in your community.

Managing On-Farm Risks – March 1st

Topics: Identify the risks and liabilities in your operation and make a plan to mitigate them and be prepared if something goes wrong.

Presenter: Eric Belasco is a Professor of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University. His research interests include Agricultural Marketing and Risk Management. He will talk about business risk that impacts farmers and ranchers and share his research on the value of USDA-RMA Whole Farm Revenue Protection for small farms.


Workshop Registration

Contact the hosting County Extension Agent with questions about each series, find registration links for your local series below.

Missoula County – Missoula

Seth Swanson                                                      406.258.4205

Workshops will be held at the Missoula County Extension Building at 2825 Santa Fe Court, Missoula.

Ravalli County – Corvallis

Dr. Zach Miller                                  406.961.3025

Workshops will be held at the Western Agricultural Research Station at 580 Quast Ln, Corvallis.

Pondera County – Conrad

Shaelyn Meyer                                                     406.271.4053

Workshops will be held at Coaches Corner Pizza at 608 Front Street, Conrad.

Carbon County – Joliet

Nikki Bailey                                                               406.962.3522

Workshops will be held at the Carbon County Extension Building at 202 State Street, Joliet.

Silver Bow and Deer Lodge Counties – Butte

Kellee Anderson                                                406.723.0217

Abbie Phillip                                                           406.563.4035

Workshops will be held at the Thornton Building at 65 E Broadway St, Butte.

Gallatin County – Bozeman

Emily Lockard                                                       406.582.3280

Workshops will be held at the Gallatin County Extension Building at 903 North Black Ave, Bozeman.

Planning For On-Farm Success will be offered across Montana each winter. If you’d like to see a workshop series hosted in your community in 2018, contact your local extension agent or