Reckon With Risk

Risky Business?

An Online Tool to Help Beginning Massachusetts Farmers Address Risk

If you are planning to start a farm business or have recently started one, you probably have a lot of worries.  There are many risks associated with farming, especially when you are starting out.  At the New England Small Farm Institute, we work with many new and beginning farmers – people like you who are thinking about starting a farm enterprise or are in their first ten years of farming. We hear many of the same concerns again and again. This guide will help you address concerns about the risky aspects of farming. It offers resources and strategies that can help you minimize many of the risks associated with a farming career.

The resources are primarily targeted to farmers in Massachusetts, but we hope they can be a useful starting point for anyone.

Risk Tolerance

Before you can address concerns about your farming operation, it’s useful to understand your own attitudes about risk as well as those of your family, farm partners, and others who will be directly affected by your decisions. Are you the kind of person who is so cautious that you won’t try anything new? Do you take on major new projects without pausing to think through the possible consequences? Perhaps you fall somewhere in between? To learn more about your personal risk tolerance, see NESFI’s Small Farm Risk Assessment Tool.(left)

The Guide

This guide is organized to address some of the most common questions about farming risks. Each question is followed by several suggested strategies to address the concern. At the end of each discussion is a list of resources – Web links, printed material, and/or organizations that can help you minimize or eliminate risk.

Developed with funding from the USDA Risk Management Agency. Reference herein to any specific products or services does not necessarily constitute or imply their endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the USDA Risk Management Agency or the New England Small Farm Institute.

The USDA also has a “Farm Risk Managment Planning” website with many useful tools and good information, although geared towards large farms.