University students study business side of agriculture

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(Host) Some Vermont agriculture students are learning the business side of dairy farming. They’ve also won some awards for their efforts. The “2+2=FARMS” program at the University of Vermont and Vermont Technical College focuses on agricultural business strategies, entrepreneurship and farm management.

Program coordinator Don Maynard says farming shouldn’t be seen as just a way of life:

(Maynard) “This is a paradigm shift. We’ve got to see this as a business. We’ve got to understand that the enterprise we do is exactly that: a business enterprise. If it does not give, give us a fair return on – and a expendable income that we can maintain ourselves, then it is not a sustainable. In fact nothing about it is sustainable.”

(Host) Nine UVM and VTC students in the program received high marks this month in a national dairy farm management competition. Maynard says the students assessed the business practices of actual farms and had their work reviewed by experts:

(Maynard) “The case studies were very real. These farms agreed to open up their books and hide nothing. They had a 90-minute actual on- farm visit with the team, they had a 12-minute interview with the owner-manager, and then they had four hours to put together the results of their analysis into a presentation that they then presented both to the farm owner and to a team of five judges.”

(Host) Maynard says the first Northeast farm management competition is planned for this fall. He says the event will give students an opportunity to focus on business strategies that make sense for dairy farms in this region.

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