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Extension Boosts Profitability for Nation’s Farmers

Nifa Authors
Margaret Lawrence, Writer-Editor

Producers and ranchers need a trusted resource to help them improve the viability of their operations. For more than 100 years, Cooperative Extension, a nationwide educational and outreach network based at the nation’s Land-grant Universities, has been helping farmers improve not only their productivity but their profitability as well. 

Recent data shows that improving profitability for the nation’s farmers is a critical issue. According to USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture, more than 60% of all farmers and ranchers work at least part time at off-the-farm jobs.  Additionally, only 43% of farmers reported a positive net cash farm income in 2022. 

Farmers and ranchers work to be more competitive, more productive and more cost efficient. Improving in those areas tends to improve profitability.  

With critical support through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Smith-Lever capacity grants and 1890 Extension grants, Extension continues to develop new outreach tools and resources focused on profitability.  


  • University of Wisconsin Extension provides research-based farm business management information through programs like its Extension Farm Management Webinar series and Navigating Your Farm Business program. These resources and education can help farmers explore new ideas in support of new farm businesses or assist farms that struggle with revenue in a changing agriculture economy. 
  • To minimize the gap in information access and promote the marketing of locally produced fresh foods in the state, University of Maryland Eastern Shore developed instructional manuals and educational materials that were used as part of hands-on training, workshops and field days. 
  • Through in-person events at its regional agricultural centers, Purdue Extension provides training for farmers and livestock producers on a variety of topics including knowledge in crop and produce production, farm management and small-scale farming. 
  • Iowa State University Extension developed the 12-hour Women Marketing Grain course in direct response to a demand of women farmers. Participants said the course improved their knowledge of cash, futures and options contracts; developing a crop marketing plan; basis, futures carry and cost of ownership; and cost of production and crop margin estimates. 
  • Kansas State, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Purdue Extension came together to produce a four-part land leasing program targeted at women actively engaged in managing their lands. Nearly 90% of participants reported they had a greater understanding of the importance of a written lease and what items should be included in it.  Additionally, better than 60% said they were more confident in their ability to negotiate a lease.   
  • Extension across the country produces enterprise budgets that help farmers select which crops to grow, how much and how to determine pricing and allocate resources to meet production goals. 


Farm Bill Priority Areas
Agriculture economics and rural communities
U.S. States and Territories

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