Iowa CAFE Part II Products and Production


Farmers interested in adding value to their business often begin with the idea to grow or raise "something different" on their farm Production is only one part of the complex equation to add profit or increase net income. After sorting through options that are economically feasible and that fit the individual or family involved, the route taken or option pursued may be completely different from the original concept. Options can vary from a relatively simple change, such as growing a higher-value corn for a contract market to breeding, raising and training a rare breed of dog for the pet market.

Farmers often feel most comfortable and enjoy pursuing the production options more so than delving into business planning and marketing. But, all these planning activities need to occur simultaneously.

Key Questions

General Production

What have you grown or produced in the past?
On what scale was that production? How different/difficult would it be to scale up that production?
What do you like to grow or raise?
What are you considering growing or raising? Why?


Are your soils suitable to grow this crop?
Are the Iowa climate and your microclimate suitable to grow this crop?
Do you have an adequate water supply to raise this crop?
Do you currently have the equipment to raise the crop and a storage and post-harvest handling strategy?


Do you have the facilities (fencing, buildings, etc.) to handle these livestock?
Does the infrastructure exist for securing feed supplies, and for killing and processing these animals?


How would this new enterprise fit with your current labor supply and yearly labor distribution?
How do your family and business partners feel about this prospective enterprise?
What addition skills would you need to develop to successfully produce this new crop/livestock species?


Web Links

  • The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center - A premier website for information about agricultural alternatives. Information is available about the range of skills needed to add or begin a new enterprise, ranging from production to marketing and business development. This is one of the first places to direct clients, particularly those that are early in their investigative process.
  • Missouri Alternatives Center - This website has information to help improve farm profitability and, they feel, to help maintain the agricultural base needed to sustain rural communities, The Alternatives Center serves as a communications center for Missouri farmers, Extension staff, government personal and people who want to begin farming, diversify their current operation, or find ways to profit from small amounts of acreage. Information available through this web site ranges from aquaculture to herbs to beginning farming.
  • Growing for Market - An excellent source of information about growing and marketing produce, herbs and cut flowers. The website includes information about subscribing to the monthly newsletter and an index of article titles from past issues.