Business Planning for Producers

A course to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to start, adapt, and maintain a profitable land or sea-based business.

artwork for Business Planning 4 ProducersThis multi-session course is designed to help you evaluate potential land or sea-based businesses and understand the core concepts of business planning including: market research, marketing, funding, financial record keeping and sustainability. Successful completion of this course qualifies students for USDA Farm Service Agency Borrower Training Credit.

Note: This course used to be known as “So, You Want to Farm in Maine”

Course Information

Registration is not open yet for the 2024 course. Please add your name to our interest list to be notified when we offer the course next.

Due to high demand, this course is limited to individuals who currently operate a land or sea-based business or are planning to start one in Maine within the next year. Registration price is per farm.

Course schedule:

  • 10 sessions on Thursday evenings from 5:00–7:00 p.m. beginning November 7, 2024 and ending on February 6, 2025.
  • Sessions will take place on the following dates:
    • November 7, 14, 21
    • December 5, 12
    • January 2, 9, 23, 30
    • February 6
  • Note: Participants should plan to spend approximately 3 hours/week on additional asynchronous coursework required.

Course format and completion:

  • Complete readings, videos, quizzes and assignments in Brightspace (online learning platform)
  • Attend 10 two-hour Zoom sessions, Thursdays, 5:00 — 7:00 p.m.
  • Write a draft business plan
  • Give a brief business financial presentation
  • Complete a one-on-one meeting with one of our business coaches

Course Fee:

This training program is offered on a sliding scale (self-selected) and is the price per farm. We strive to make the training accessible and affordable for all Maine residents. Fee to be determined.

If price is a barrier for participation, payment options will be available.

Topics Include:

Basics of writing your business plan including:

  • Market analysis
  • Marketing strategies
  • Financial planning
  • Sustainability
  • Leveraging resources

Hardware, Software, and Bandwidth Requirements:

To complete this course, you will need access to a computer and the following software: An internet browser (Mozilla Firefox works best with Brightspace), word processor (MS Word or Google Docs preferred), and plugins such as Zoom. Some class materials will require a high-speed internet to view. It is recommended that you plan ahead if you do not have consistent access to high-speed internet so that you are able to view all course materials on schedule.

Do you need access to a computer or reliable internet to participate in this training?

To complete coursework: you may contact your local Extension office to schedule a time to use their WiFi during office hours (in the building) or use WiFi anytime from some parking lots. Contact the National Digital Equity Center for no cost or low cost tablets for Maine Residents who are of low to moderate income. Many public libraries have computers available for public use. Contact your local library for more information. If you are still unable to find access, please contact your local Extension office.

FSA Borrower Training Credit:

Participants who wish to receive FSA borrower training credit must attend all sessions (live or view recordings), complete all assignments successfully and attend a one-on-one meeting with one of our approved business coaches.

What is FSA Borrower Training Credit?

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is a branch of the USDA that offers low interest loans for farms, crop insurance programs, and other financial services. The FSA Farm Loan Division requires borrowers to complete borrower training, unless FSA waives the training requirement. Completion of this course is a method to fulfill the training requirement. If you are not currently an FSA borrower and you apply for a loan with FSA, taking the course may allow you to have the training requirement waived.

Training credit does not expire. Make sure to retain a copy of the course completion certificate to provide evidence of training.


Email: or phone: 207.933.2100

If you are a person with a disability and need an accommodation to participate in this program, or would like to discuss any other barriers to participation, please email or call Chris Howard at 207.944.6391 (in Maine) to discuss your needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least 10 days before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be considered.

United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture combined logo.

This work is supported by Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program [grant no. 2021-70033-35716] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

In complying with the letter and spirit of applicable laws and pursuing its own goals of diversity, the University of Maine System does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship status, familial status, ancestry, age, disability physical or mental, genetic information, or veterans or military status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The University provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity, 5713 Chadbourne Hall, Room 412, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5713, 207.581.1226, TTY 711 (Maine Relay System).