Farm planning has been championed by land grant universities and the Extension Service since the turn of the century. The predominant focus of early planning efforts was on improving the farmer's management skills and the farm's natural resources, especially soil. Some farm planning experts achieved legendary status, as the simple application of sound physical, biological and financial production principles they espoused allowed many farms to endure the bad times and prosper during the good times. As farmers and ranchers approach the. new millennium, the rewards for effective planning have risen and extend beyond the farm. Heightened competition, less commodity program support, and robust public demand for clean water and air are pushing operators to manage their natural and other resources with even greater care. The joining of economic and environmental requirements has spawned a new era in farm planning. Operators must not only find ways to keep the cost of production low by conserving farm resources, improving their management skills, and identifying new crops and markets, but, increasingly, reduce pollution that travels beyond the farm's boundary. Simultaneously, the explosion of low cost information technologies spurred by the electronic revolution makes new planning resources, such as powerful home computers, digitized maps, and Internet access, accessible that were unfathomable a few years ago. These broader requirements, coupled with the improved technology, has expanded interest in a concept called "whole farm planning (WFP),concept that includes all fann operator goals, farm resources, and the environmental effects of production on and off the fann. Whole Farm Planning: A Survey if North Amencan Experiments is the first of two reports that describe the key features of nine WFP experiments in the us and Canada. This report briefly describes each of the efforts to draw implications for public policy that will allow WFP to reach its full potential in helping fanners satisfy their personal goals while protecting the environment for others. The findings in this report display a rich diversity of WFP approaches. The second (forthcoming) report will provide more extensive detail on each of the approaches as well as contact information. The two reports are the first major survey and analysis of WFP efforts. The Henry A. Wallace Institute does not advocate one approach over another. It does, however, advocate the development of mechanisms, such as WFP, that bring all benefits and costs of farming into operator decisions so that long tenn societal welfare can be enhanced. Partial funding for this study was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The report's contents and conclusions, however, are solely the responsibility of the author and the Wallace Institute.


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