Delta Farm Start, a Beginning Farmer Rancher Program

Writing business plans: expansion of chicken farm and startup of heirloom tomatoes and herbs farm

In a pilot project funded by USDA’s Beginning Farmer Rancher Program, MDCFWOI provided business planning support and assistance to 21 selected participants who represent limited resource, socially-disadvantaged farm and ranch or farm labor backgrounds. 

Within workshop curriculum developed for the program and tailored to the selected group of participants, MDCFWOI introduced and tested an “Estimated Profit” training component as part of the Delta Farm Start curriculum. During the 1.5 hour session, participants were able to determine if their new farming venture or their idea for additional income stream was not only viable, but they were able to determine their total earning potential based on the infusion of a $500 micro-grant, funds to be used to implement their new farming venture or new product/income stream.  The “Estimated Profit” training component was accessible for all participants, even those who had very limited reading/writing.

Over 90% of micro-grants were used to enhance or expand livestock enclosures.  These expenses were one-time fees used to acquire durable materials or equipment.  We calculate that for each $1 provided for participant micro-grants, $5.79 was returned to the participant. Participants earned benefit between April and November of 2013.

The expanded and enhanced livestock enclosures or equipment will sustain each participants benefit annually for no less than 3 years. We estimate that USDA’s ROI for the initial $70,150 in this pilot project, over a 3 year period, with no additional investment on the part of USDA, is anticipated to be: $104,332 for the initial 12 pilot project participants and $169,500 total economic impact on the community. Over a 3 year period, USDA’s Benefit Cost Ration is 273,832/70,150 = 3.90 x 100 = 390% ROI For every $1 USDA invested in the MDC BFRDP pilot project $3.90 will be returned in economic development to the participants and communities of the Mississippi Delta.



Members of the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative’s Women in Agriculture cooperative writing individual business plans.


Calculating break-even analysis with curriculum designer and trainer Danita Rodriguez.


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