Published Sep 28, 2015

Research Report: Whole Farm Financial Project – An Analysis of 2013 Financials

By Liz Kolbe

Enthusiasm for local fruits and vegetables continues to grow among consumers, the media, and farmers. Little attention has been paid to the bottom line of the local foods movement: How does a beginning farmer build a successful business? Are Iowa fruits and vegetable farms currently making a profit? Can a farm generate profit raising only fruits and vegetables? What do successful fruit and vegetable farm financials look like?

Whff Report coverTo help answer these questions, 11 fruit and vegetable producers in Practical Farmers of Iowa’s membership contributed their financial statements from the 2013 growing year to be aggregated and published. The goal of this report is to provide a starting point for conversation about the profit potential of fruit and vegetable farms, and to provide farmers in planning stages a look at the financials of a sample of existing farms. The farm financials in this report are intended to be illustrative and educational. Such a small dataset should not be used as benchmarks, nor taken as a reflection of all diversified fruit and vegetables farms.

This report cannot be used as a blueprint for farm financial success. This report will be immediately useful to farmers with a few years of financial numbers of their own to compare. For beginning and aspiring farmers, this report can show them which ratios to begin tracking, and what level of revenue may be reasonable to expect.

For this report, farmers were asked to complete a Schedule F tax form that was modified to include a more detailed breakdown of revenue, a simple balance sheet of equity and liabilities, and a 10 question survey. To preserve anonymity of the farms, the data is reported by categorical aggregation or by transforming data into common financial ratios and per acre values.

The conclusion of this report includes reflections from three of the participating farmers, on their farm, their finances, and using this report. If you are interested in including your farm data in future reports, please contact

Read more, including quotes from farmers, in the Research Report.