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Breakout Session C

The Fruit and Nut Compass: A Financial Planning Tool for New, Beginning and Experienced Perennial Crop Farmers
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The long awaited and much anticipated Fruit and Nut Compass is a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet designed to walk a person through the financial planning steps of creating a perennial fruit and nut farm business. Perennial crops generally require substantial investment in capital and labor as well as a delay before crops mature and contribute to cash flow and profitability. This tool provides a step-by-step structure to enter all costs and labor inputs over time, from the cost of land (owned or rented), land preparation, planting, establishment years, harvest years, infrastructure investments, and marketing as well as a place to estimate sales over a 15 year time period. The result is a financial timeline that can be analyzed to assess and manage risk, determine capital investment requirements, and provide the foundation for a formal business plan. The financial results can also be tweaked to see the impact of changes in predicted yield and projected pricing. This tool was created for producers with input from beginning and experienced growers and is available for free from the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems in collaboration with the Savanna Institute.

John Hendrickson, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, UW-Madison

Marketing Agroforestry Products: Lessons from Producers
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A key component of increasing agroforestry adoption is increasing opportunities to connect with markets for tree, shrub, non-timber, and other products grown in agroforestry systems. While some of these crops have well-established markets, for other crops, identifying, developing, or entering into markets may be a challenge. This session will share lessons learned from case studies of seven farmers and intermediary organizations who have taken different approaches to finding or creating markets for their products. It will also describe USDA programs and resources for marketing agroforestry products. The session will conclude with time for discussion about other opportunities and resources that are needed related to this topic. This session will share information developed for Marketing Agroforestry Products: Lessons from Producers, a recent National Agroforestry Center publication.

Kate MacFarland, USDA National Agroforestry Center

Agroforestry: A Good Management Practice for Agricultural Risk Mitigation
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The trend of declining U.S. farms continues steadily. In 2020, the farms decreased by 8.9% compared with 2019. However, the average farm size increased slightly to 444 acres in 2019 compared with 440 acres in 1970. The average age of U.S. farmers increased to 57.5 years in 2017 from 56.3 years in 2012. The small-holders’ situation is further exacerbated due to increased production, marketing, and financial risks. The study implemented agroforestry avenues as good agricultural practice: (1) Silvopasture, (2) Alley cropping, (3) Woodland grazing, and (4) Year-round forage production. The objective of this study was to increase the land-use intensity and household income. Besides a survey, the study conducted research and demonstration sites at Tuskegee University, Alabama A&M University, and four Alabama counties. The findings of these four components manifested multiple socioeconomic and environmental benefits considerably. The first and second components diversified mono-cropping to multiple commodities that increased annual cash flow and total household income. Of the five types of risks, financial risk was placed on the top by 51%, followed by marketing (34%) and production (32%). Among the risk-mitigating factors, capacity building, agricultural cooperatives, and saving schemes were stated the most prominent by 58%, 66%, and 59% of respondents. Woodland grazing lowered feeding cost by 58 – 204%, and labor cost 50 – 100% compared to conventional feeding systems. The fourth component demonstrated a reduction of up to 79% of feed cost after introducing a year-round forage production program. Participants’ risk mitigation knowledge, attitude, skills, and aspirations strengthened substantially.

Lila B. Karki, University of Maryland Eastern Shore School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences Cooperative Extension 

Uma Karki, Tuskegee University

Anand Tiwari, Tuskegee University

A market-driven approach to restoring degraded landscapes and sequestering carbon, planting hazelnuts in partnership with Bhutanese subsistence farming communities
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Mountain Hazelnuts (MH) is a market-oriented social enterprise, working with smallholder farming households and community groups throughout the Kingdom of Bhutan, to generate long-term income, revitalize vulnerable communities, and enable sustainable land stewardship through the production and sale of premium quality hazelnuts and provision of ecosystem services. The Company, established as a public-private-community partnership with the Royal Government of Bhutan, provides long-term, fully integrated support to subsistence farmers through an innovative 30-year partnership, mobilizing international capital to promote low-carbon agriculture and support local communities through the entire hazelnut lifecycle. Most cash crops require significant upfront cash investments and bear high risks due to market fluctuations. By contrast, Mountain Hazelnuts delivers seedlings to farmers with no upfront payment or financial commitment. MH supplies all the necessary inputs to cultivate hazelnuts, ranging from hazelnut saplings, tools, training, technical expertise, bi-monthly supervision, and an overarching structure which enables hazelnut growers to thrive. MH guarantees the purchase of the hazelnut harvest at a fair price established with Bhutan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, then processes the crop for export sale through its international marketing network. The MH business model provides a commercially viable approach to addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Company is more than half way through planting 10 million hazelnut trees across 19 of Bhutan’s 20 districts. These trees will stabilize eroding mountain soils, alleviate deforestation pressures from fuelwood, and sequester an estimated 8 million metric tonnes of CO2-eq over the productive lifetimes. The development and sale of carbon credits has been a planned part of the venture since inception in 2009, representing a significant opportunity to provide critical cashflow to their partner subsistence communities, particularly during pivotal periods prior to substantial harvests and nut revenues. Daniel Spitzer, Co-Founder and Chairman, will present on the company’s history, business model, and integrated approach to carbon-drawdown and socio-economic impact. 

Daniel Spitzer, Mountain Hazelnuts, Co-Founder, Chairman, Group CEO

Teresa Law, Mountain Hazelnuts, Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer