Small farmers in Florida face a variety of issues and challenges, and with less resources available to them than larger farms, they can be at a competitive disadvantage.

With small farms representing over 90 percent of farms in Florida, insuring their success is vital to the agriculture industry in the state. That's why UF/IFAS and FAMU have created a Web site (http://smallfarms.ifas.ufl.edu) that specifically addresses the needs of small farmers.

“The Web site was developed to make small farm information accessible in one location,” said Bob Hochmuth, the multi-county agent at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Suwannee Valley. “Small farmers may be seeking information on getting started in farming or considering one of many alternative enterprises and it is all pulled together in one site to make the search easy.”

The Web site provides links and other resources for small farmers including, how to get started, enterprise budgeting, business planning, financing grants, and much more. Farmers using the site can select topics on enterprises of special interest to them, including aquaculture, cut flowers, livestock, and organic farming. Each topic includes information on production, marketing, and economics as well as other appropriate links.

“What a fabulous resource,” said Betty O'Toole, owner of O'Toole's Herb Farm in Madison, Fla. “Jim and I have found that the IFAS small farm Web page has become an invaluable tool for our business. The site is jam packed with useful information, quick and user friendly, even for the computer novices we are.”

Input from small farmers and allied organizations, identifying issues critical to small farmers, such as access to profitable markets, business skills development, accessible technical information, and alternative crops and enterprises, was used to help design the site.

Input from counties throughout Florida identified the need for small farm educational programs to be developed. The small farms Web site provides information that farmers can employ to address these issues and become more efficient in their business.

For more information visit UF/IFAS and FAMU small farms website at http://smallfarms.ifas.ufl.edu.