In this section, you are telling the reader who you are, what you plan to do, and how you plan to do it. Some of the sections repeat themselves, only in a different order. You will see this with the “Stage of Development” and “Goals and Objectives” sections.

Each section will have different levels of importance. How detailed you should be depends on the reader or who you are writing the grant for. In some sections you will write more for one reader and less for another. You may also have different drafts of the business plan for each person or entity that will read the business plan. When writing for a grant, cater your writing to the specifics of the grant.

Section II. Business Concept, Mission & Goals section of the business plan will include: (Click below to jump to a specific section of Section 2)

A. Farmstead Situation

In this section you should talk about where you are right now as you write this business plan. This is not a dissertation on your philosophies on agriculture or biodiversity, this is just a summary of where you are in your business process. If you completed the Pre-Business Planning section, the summary at the end of that section will go here.

For those that have no completed the pre-business planning process, this section will need to include:

  • Who is involved in this proposed enterprise. Include a paragraph for each individual including the follow information:
    1. What experience do they have to offer this enterprise
    2. If they are lacking skills in any sector, how they plan to achieve those skills, or who is going to do them (hire a cheesemaker, take ice cream courses, hire
      heardsman while you make yogurt, etc)
  • What you are doing now. This can be as simple as “Red Bull Farm purchased milking Devon cattle 6 years ago with the idea of selling high-end beef to consumers in the Boston metro area. With the land base available, it was decided that the farm could not carry enough cow/calf pairs and feeders to meet the customer demand or make a living. Because Milking Devons are a triple purpose breed, Joe and Jane Farmer decided to look into dairy value-adding to take advantage of existing customer base with another high-end product, specifically butter and cheese…”
  • Where is this business going to happen. In the Pre-Business Planning section, we outlined the “Resources Available”. Summarize this section here. For those that did not complete pre-business planning, please refer to this section in the workbook to give you an idea of what to include in this section. Example: The animals are XYZ, the milk will come from XYZ. The processing will happen at XYZ.

B. Stage of Development

If you are reading this, you are likely in the start-up phase. You can also use this section to talk briefly about rate of growth, if any.

C. General Growth Plan Description

This section is linked to the Goals and Objectives section. What you are doing is writing down all of the things that have to be done, then prioritizing and categorizing them. Some of this is redundant. If you are writing this for yourself, this list can be very detailed. When writing for other audiences, summarize a bit more.

To start, use bullet points to write down EVERYTHING that has to be done. It is perfectly normal for this to go on for a few pages to begin with. Have every person involved in the proposed enterprise write their ideas down independently and then get together to combine the list. This practice helps you to find things you did not think of and also helps find areas of weakness (concerns) that people have.

  •  (Use these bullet points to begin making a “To Do” list)

After you compile wach person’s list of things that have to be done, categorize them. For example, you may need to:

  • Research dairy products made in NY with Milking Shorthorns
  • Find recipes for traditional cheeses made in NY
  • Find a consultant or cheese workshop to see if you can make cheese
  • Develop a recipe using the milk from our Milking Shorthorn herd

All of these items will all fall under Research and Development. Write all the details for yourself. If you are specifically asking for a grant or a loan to cover all of these elements, then include the details. If not, just the subject will do.

After you write the list of things that have to be done and group them into categories, the next step is to place them into the “phase”. The word “phase” corresponds to the word “year”. Phase is a nicer term because it loosely covers a year and does not hold you specifically to that year. Some of those phases may actually last days or weeks. Some may drag on for two or more years. See below for an example.


Phase One

  • Research & Development
  • Retrofit Milkhouse;
  • Obtain equipment needed to produce raw aged cheese on the farm;
  • Continue to pasteurize milk at incubator for fresh (cash-flow) cheeses;
  • Purchase aging and cut&wrap supplies necessary to meet Ag & Market needs.

Phase Two

  • Pay down year one debt;
  • Expand production to meet capacity of existing facility;
  • Outline wholesale/retail production/marketing needs;
  • Develop financial strategy to implement wholesale/retail production/marketing needs.

Phase Three

  • Purchase pasteurize vat and larger, automated cheese vat, install;
  • Build retail farm store;
  • Purchase wholesale packaging equipment.

Phase Four

  • Pay down debt;
  • Expand production to meet capacity.

Phase Five

  • Pay down debt;
  • Review product diversity to focus on more on-farm retail sales of cheese;
  • Explore value-added opportunities to balance cheese sales.


D. Facility Requirements

See Infrastructure – Facility Design to learn more about what materials you will need to develop your business. Summarize these contents here.

E. Raw Milk Ingredient Requirements

Source of Milk
Always separate the dairy and the processing enterprises. You need to know how much milk you will produce annually, how much milk you will have per day, how many batches per week, and more importantly, how much the value-added business will pay the dairy.

If you are new to milking your animals and are having a hard time looking for average milk yields for the various dairy like breeds, refer to Section 3: Heritage Dairy Animal Overview or review the milk production chart for heritage breeds.

It is VERY important to remember two things. One, processing facilities source milk to make many of the dairy products below cost of production. You will be competing with them with like products by paying yourself or the dairy down the road (hopefully) the cost of production plus a living wage.
Two, if you are buying milk, you may or may not fall under the Milk Marketing Orders. Look this up on the USDA website, www.ams.usda.govThis is not important if you make goat or sheep milk products. It is VERY important if you make cow milk products. Understand what this means.

Balancing Milk Volumes
See the Balancing Milk Volumes worksheet.

Products Using Skim or Cream
The easiest thing to do is to make only whole milk products. For certain scales, that may be the only thing you can do.

If you plan to make butter or other cream products, you have to consider the skim. Traditionally, the skim has been:

  • fed to pigs (or chickens)
  • field spread
  • mixed with “whole meal” or whole milk in the morning to make another cheese, like Asiago, Single-Gloucester, etc.
  • Make a skim cheese or other dairy product, Skyr (an Icelandic Yogurt made like Greek yogurt, only with skim milk. Chalky in flavor, but a big hit with health conscious varieties)

The opposite is true if you plan to make that skim product. What do you do with the cream?

  • Butter
  • Add to whole milk to make another cheese (cream cheese, double cream (bloomy rind lactic cheese), etc.)
  • Sour Cream
  • Cream
  • Sell it to another processor
  • Sell it in jugs to restaurants as heavy cream, half and half, etc.
  • Ice Cream and ice cream mix

Additional information on Products Using Skim or Cream

See the Whey worksheet.

Waste Water
You may need this to obtain a processing license. Every state is different and every town/village is different. The first thing you need to do is ask. Most likely, if you are an existing dairy, it can tie into the system that you have in place. If your place was a dairy once, you have to see where that drain goes. What the previous tenant did once, may or may not be grandfathered or desired by you now.

If you have a suspicious drain it may go:

  • To the ditch by the road
  • To the ditch out back
  • To that line of bushes
  • Tie into Milk House drain
  • Manure storage facility
  • The pond, creek, stream, brook, river, lake… abutting your property

You want it to tie into your milk house or manure handling system. It should NEVER tie you’re your household septic system. You should not have any bathroom water enter this stream and if there is a toilet in the facility, they will ask where that goes, how close it is to you water, etc.

Laws and rules are specific and may cost you nothing or many, many, many thousands of dollars.  Unfortunately, some communities will make this a big deal to keep dairy processing out of their towns by making the rules impossible to afford.

NRCS may or may not be helpful. Do NOT allow them to design a bark bed. They fail. Other systems to consider (and this is not a complete list of all systems available or approved) are:

  • tight tank that is field spread or pumped out by septic pumping outfit
  • field spreading
  • bark bed (repeating on purpose, do not do)
  • planned wetland (excellent choice if location is suitable)

F. Personal and Business Mission Statement

In this section, you are trying to summarize in 1-3 sentences what this is all about. What are you doing?  Why are you doing it?

“To develop, produce, and sell Milking Devon cheeses that taste great. The business must be viable, sustainable, and provide enough income so both partners can stay on the farm full-time.”

It is important that you are truthful and realistic. It can be “I want to be the largest and most successful Guernsey Ice Cream Maker in the United States.” You want to make sure that this statement is made with milk from Guernsey cattle and that you have more than enough animals to satisfy that statement.

Many put philosophy into this statement. Example: “To live a traditional life, like my ancestors, using traditional cheesemaking techniques and traditional cheese breeds of livestock.”

To a bank and grant review committee, this statement of purpose must be simple and make sense. They like words that involve income, milk price stability, provide on-farm income, viable, sustainable, model (if it is unique and makes economic sense), part of whole farm enterprise, and in some cases a plan to take over the world!

To start writing this section, have each person involved in the enterprise write down:

What are we going to do?


Why are we doing this?


Using your answers to the above questions, try to make one or two concise sentences to summarize your thoughts. Always start your statement with “To…..”

G. Goals and Objectives

Now we are onto what do we plan to do and how we plan to do it! Basically, this is the glorified and prioritized “to do” list. This section is important for grant reviewers and for yourself. It must make sense to the financial people, but they will look at this after the summary and the financial section.

If you did the Pre-Business Planning section of this workbook, there was a section that helped you prioritize what you needed to know, what you needed for resources (financial and physical), and where you needed to go from there. The handy thing is that you can write down and then cross out things that you are already doing, like writing the business plan (what you are doing right now).

This section generally starts with the statement (enter your project or enterprise name on the line):
“The strategy of _________________________________________ Project is described by the continuum of the following tasks (not necessarily in this order):”

Now that you have written the “to do” list, you categorize it into things that you plan to do within a year (short-term objectives) and what you plan to do years 2-5 years (long-term objectives).  When you do this for yourself, you can even do the “someday if I ever have time” list, but it is not relevant or a good idea to have when writing for a bank or a grant reviewer.

When you do this for yourself, make this as detailed as you need/want. For a grant reviewer and bank, summarize things into a general category. For example, for a bank or a grant you would write:

Short-Term Objectives:

  • To retrofit existing milkhouse on our dairy farm.  The facility will house a smaller milkhouse for our dairy herd, as well as a small (13’6” x 14’2””) cheese processing plant.
  • To develop an on-farm store to take advantage of retail prices for cheese.
  • To start a marketing/sale campaign to sell enough cheese to reach our yearly marketing goals.

Long-Term Objective:

  • To build an additional building with cheese cave/cellar and cut&wrap/kitchen.
  • To eliminate debt associated with start-up of cheese business.

If you are writing this plan for yourself, the objectives may look more like:

Short-Term Objectives:

  • To retrofit existing milk house on our dairy farm.  The facility will house a smaller milk house for our dairy herd, as well as a small (13’6” x 14’2””) cheese processing plant.
    • Sell 1200gal. Bulk tank in old milk house
    • Move 1200 gal. bulk tank out of old milk house
    • Block wall 2′ with opening for double door
    • Frame in double door – to allow us to move 350 gal. bulk tank out if it breaks
    • Frame wall
    • Install glass-board on all walls and ceiling
    • Install lights in new plant
    • Install hot water heater in store room
    • Install new 50-gal cheese vat in processing room
    • Install sinks and hose in processing room
  • To develop an on-farm store to take advantage of retail prices for cheese.
    • Design and order sign
    • Paint interior walls
    • Buy reach in cooler
    • Buy reach in freezer
    • Buy shelving
    • Design Point of Purchase Material
    • Buy point of Purchase Material

Long-Term Objective:

  • To build an additional building with cheese cave/cellar and cut&wrap/kitchen.
    • Take down existing 3-bay shed
    • Regrade area
    • Pour pad, we can do ourselves
    • Find contractor to do block work and get bids
    • Find contractor to do interior and exterior work and get bids
    • Find contractor to install low-velocity cooler and ventilation system for cave
    • Find contractor to install electricity and plumbing
    • Purchase supplies for cut& wrap area
      • Finish cooler
      • stainless steel table
      • Table on wheels
      • Guillotine and cheese knives for cutting wheels
      • Cutting boards
      • Legal for trade scale
      • Bins and shelves for packaging and wrap
      • To eliminate debt associated with start-up of cheese business.

A word about grants
If your business plan is based on you obtaining a grant, you will do a lot of planning, you will not do any farming or processing. If you have enough credit or assets to finance this business, you are more likely to get the grant. Use grants as gravy… you will do that specific objective regardless of funding, getting the grant will just make it easier if you do get it. There are no grants that are designed specifically to “get you into farming”. There are grants for:

  • Feasibility studies
  • Business planning
  • Marketing plans
  • Implementing marketing plans – which will not cover buildings, construction or very expensive equipment, but will cover things like legal scales, tents for farmers markets, design and printing of point of purchase materials, packaging, a consultant, etc.
  • Consultants and courses