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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Producers First Technical Assistance Available

For many farmers who sell to the local market, hiring an expert is something that other farmers do. Many farmers think that there aren’t any experts out there for what they need, or that the cost would be too much. But in Wisconsin, some farmers are hiring experts through the state’s Producers First program, and their businesses are better for it.

Kay Jensen of JenEhr Family Farm in Sun Prairie has been growing organic produce and raising pastured poultry with her husband Paul Ehrhardt for 13 seasons. When Jensen wanted to improve her use of QuickBooks to better manage their farming operation, she applied for technical assistance with Producers First.

“In a farming system like ours when you are growing multiple crops, there are dilemmas and opportunities, and I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel to try to bring all the information together in one place,” said Jensen. “By enhancing my knowledge of what QuickBooks could do for the farm with Producers First, I got the full picture of my farm. I was able to see the leaks and fix them to make the best management decisions I could.”

Producers First, run by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, connects producers with an expert consultant to address the farm operation’s needs to increase capacity, efficiency, and sales. Applicants are able to identify a consultant of their choice who has the experience and expertise needed for the project.

Producers First supports one-on-one technical assistance and has a simple application process. Preference will be given to food producers selling a majority of their products through local markets. Examples of technical assistance provided by Producers First include: accounting and financial organization, business planning, food safety, grant writing assistance, legal services, market development, packaging and label development, and whole farm planning.

If you are interested in applying to the Producers First program, go here or contact Keefe Keeley at 608-306-0844 or datcpproducersfirst@wisconsin.gov .