Times are challenging on the farm these days. Farmers run and finance large and diverse businesses, manage capital, handle labor issues and navigate regulations. An operator is constantly busy working in their business. The Executive Farm Management Program (EFMP) is designed to help farmers work on their business. In 2021, the National Peanut Board is proud to partner on the EFMP to support peanut farmers’ participation in this educational activity.
NPB will provide a $150 tuition grant for up to 100 U.S. peanut farmers who participate in the 2021 EFMP, held virtually, Feb. 10-12, 2021. Farmers can find out more details and sign up for the program at go.ncsu.edu/efm. Read the full press release here.
We talked with Blake Brown, director of Executive Farm Management Program at North Carolina State University, about the education opportunity, what’s different this year with the pandemic and the benefits peanut farmers can expect to gain from the experience.
NPB: Tell us a bit about how the EFM Program works in a normal year.
BB: A full EFM teaches core management skills in strategy, financial management and human resource management plus other pertinent management topics for farmers such as succession planning. The program is delivered in three sessions totaling 12 days in January and February. Each program is tailored to the needs of the farmers who enroll in that year’s program. Farmers work in teams on a case study farm to apply the skills they learn. The case study farm is changed each year so that it resembles the farms of the program participants. A relatively new business management tool called the Business Model Canvas is used to pull together all the management tools and develop a strategy for the case study farm. By the end of the program each team will have prepared a Business Model Canvas for the case study farm using what they learn in the program. Participants really enjoy this hands on approach. At the end of the program each team presents their business plan to their peers and to a panel of farm, agribusiness and financial experts who give them feedback on their plan. One team is chosen for the best plan. Teams really get into preparing their plan and it can get quite competitive.
NPB: What changes have you made this year?
BB: Due to the pandemic, we decided a full program would be difficult to deliver. We are doing a virtual “bootcamp” that will cover the basics of the foundational management topics of strategy, financial management and human resource management. A simple case study farm pertinent to the farms enrolled will be used to teach the concepts. While there will not be time for teams to prepare their own business model canvas for the case study farm, participants will experience how a business model canvas is developed and will participate in small group virtual breakout sessions where they will interact with program faculty on how a plan is developed. This basic program will be delivered in three half days Wednesday, Feb. 10 – Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. We hope to help farmers with some very important, core management skills and prepare a really strong group of farmers for a full program in 2022. More information and how to apply can be found at our website at go.ncsu.edu/efm.
The bootcamp will be preceded by four webinars, each delivered at 9:00am ET on Tuesdays Jan. 12, Jan. 19, Jan. 26 and Feb. 2. The webinars cover critical management topics: Transforming Your Business, Managing Cash, Family Succession Issues, and Tackling Sticky Conversations. You can learn more and sign up for the webinars at our website go.ncsu.edu/efm
NPB: How will the EFM virtual bootcamp benefit peanut farmers?
BB: Peanut farms are more complex and diverse than other row crop farms. Some peanut farms even venture into value-added peanut products. Regardless they must stay at the cutting edge of management; particularly if they want to successfully pass the operation to the next generation. The bootcamp will sharpen their existing management skills and provide new skills in an innovative and very intuitive framework that peanut farmers can put to work right away.
NPB: Is there any specific background required for participation? Do farmers need to have a certain level of education, experience, farm size or location?
BB: No on both accounts.
NPB: How will this program make a difference in peanut farmers' operations?
BB: Participants will come away from the bootcamp with an understanding of key financial concepts and ratios, the most important things to consider in succession planning, and key communication concepts every business leaders need to know to communicate effectively; all in an easily understandable and useful framework called the Business Model Canvas. Participants will be better able to manage their operation and plan a successful path ahead for themselves and future generations. In particular, the bootcamp will help them understand what management areas are particularly important for their farm and what sort of information and skills they need to seek to continue building a successful farm.
More information and how to apply can be found at go.ncsu.edu/efm.