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Farm business management tuition cost-share now available to transitioning and certified organic Midwest fruit and vegetable growers

The University of Minnesota, in coordination with the Farm Business Management (FBM) program, has released scholarship money for transitioning and certified organic Midwest fruit and vegetable growers through the Organic Farm Financial Benchmarking in the Upper Midwest project led by Associate Professor/Extension Economist Joleen Hadrich in the Department of Applied Economics.

Scholarships equal to 25% to 50% of the FBM tuition cost were previously only made available to certified organic dairy and row crop producers. Beginning in fall 2021, the scholarship program was expanded to include all organic and organic transition producers including specialty crop growers producing fruits, vegetables and value-added products. “Farmers and ranchers are invited to apply for the scholarship regardless of operation size, commodities produced or marketing channels used,” says Hadrich. 

Nearly 23% of certified organic farmers in Minnesota are fruit and vegetable producers (2019 Organic Survey, National Agricultural Statistics Service). According to the Needs Assessment of Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Producers, a survey fielded by the University of Minnesota Extension in 2019, 64% of growers describe themselves as “not certified organic but organically-focused” with the majority producing on two acres or less. The survey also suggests that many growers are looking to expand their acreage and move beyond direct marketing as a means of improving overall profitability. “Organic specialty crop growers and those looking to transition to organic or become certified now have the chance to test the financial feasibility of their ideas on paper first before investing in new business strategies,” Hadrich explains. “This is a unique opportunity.”

As an FBM student, growers work one-on-one with FBM instructors to improve their knowledge and understanding of accounting, budgeting, finance, tax management, and business analysis. FBM instructors visit grower farms to work directly with all members of the family who participate in business operations. At the end of each year, growers receive individualized income statements, cash flow reports and balance sheets for the operation as well as specialized enterprise analyses for different crops and/or marketing channels.

All organic data submitted through the scholarship program is included in the Center for Farm Financial Management’s online FINBIN database ( Data will be aggregated and used to inform regional financial benchmarking reports and to build Extension programming.

A report from the first year of the organic benchmarking project, Upper Midwest Organic Farm Business Management 2020 Annual Report, is available online through the University of Minnesota. The report details whole farm and enterprise returns as well as traditional financial indicators for organic dairy and row crop producers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The report, including enterprise results for organic dairy, soybeans, corn, corn silage, alfalfa hay and haylage, is available at

Learn more about the organic benchmarking cost share program and apply for scholarships at:

Contact Joleen Hadrich ( or Gigi DiGiacomo ( with any questions. Funding for the organic benchmarking cost-share program is provided through the USDA-Organic Research and Extension Initiative Program (2019-51300-30484).

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