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Sustainable Agriculture

Frequently Asked Questions

Many more people are currently interested in issues and information related to small farms, sustainable agriculture, direct marketing, organic production, and other related topics. This site provides some of those questions with answers and links to other sources. Resources for those interested in small farms and alternative enterprises can look at our Small Farms/Alternative Enterprises page.

What licenses are required for small farmers by the Georgia Department of Agriculture?

The types of licenses that may be required by the GA Dept of Agriculture or other groups depends on what type of farm you operate.

  • You must receive a license if you plan on producing queen bees or package bees for sale. A one-time fee of $25 is required. Contact the GA Department of Agriculture.
  • If you want to become a small egg producer, guidelines for licensing and legal requirements can be found through the GA Department of Agriculture here.
  • If you're planning on directly selling live plants to clients, you need to follow Georgia's licensing procedures and rules listed here.
  • Information to apply for an Equine stable license can be found here.
  • If you need to acquire a business license for your farm, you should contact your city or county government for information.
  • If on-site meat processing is to take place on your farm, you will need to obtain a meat processing license through the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Information regarding this process and application for meat inspection is included here.
  • For people interested in on-site poultry processing, helpful information from USDA on rules and regulations pertaining specifically to poultry can be found here.
  • If you plan to apply restricted use pesticides, you must get a private pesticides applicator license. You can contact your local county Extension office to inquire about this process.

What items or equipment are eligible for sales and use tax exemptions in Georgia?

  • The Georgia Department of Revenue has a list of exempt agricultural related items posted here.

What should I grow or what can I grow in Georgia?

Georgia's climate allows for a wide variety of crops to be grown nearly year round with the right accommodations being made. A schedule of crops that can be grown is available has been provided by Georgia Organics here.

Determining what to grow for your area should be determined based on production factors such as soil type, irrigation needs, etc. as well as business factors such as market demand (See Resources on Marketing.)

 

What type of liability insurance do I need for agritourism operations?

The National Ag Law Center at the University of Arkansas has posted the state rules for Georgia regarding legal liability of agritourism businesses as of 2012.

 

Where do I find out about small farm loans/grants/cost-share programs?

Information regarding this can be found on our Small Farms & Alternative Enterprises page under "Loans and Alternative Enterprise Funding".

 

How do I get an agricultural or conservation use exemption on my property taxes?

Information on conservation easements is available from the Georgia Land Conservation Program.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has also produced a guide to conservation incentives for landowners that can be found here.

 

What trade associations or professional organizations are available to small farmers?

Organizations and associations that may be available are dependent upon the commodities that you grow. Some examples include:

 

What is a feasibility study and how do I get one started?

A feasibility study is an analysis of various factors that may relate to the potential business you are interested in developing. These factors may include area demographics, local prices of competing products, consumer interest in your proposed product, regulatory requirements, and logistical considerations including shipping, storage, and disposal. The UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development is qualified to conduct such feasibility studies.

 

How do I find a market for my product?

Finding a market for your product is the first step to success in a agricultural enterprise. Conducting a feasibility study is one of the first steps in determining a potential market. The UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development can provide assistance in developing a feasibility study for your product and also determining market availability for your area. They also house the GA Market Maker, which can help you determine a market for your product in your area.

 

How do I develop a business plan?

Creating a business plan can be a difficult process. Classroom and online training on developing a business plan can be provided by the UGA Small Business Development Center. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension (SARE) group has also published a book on Building a Sustainable Business that is helpful in laying out steps for proper business planning and development.

 

Where do I find information about paying taxes on farm income?

A useful website for tax information for farmers and people in rural areas has been developed and is supported by several land grant colleges and Extension specialist. Visit www.ruraltax.org for information related to various topics.

The IRS has provided a publication regarding tax filing for farms (Publication 225 - Farmer's Tax Guide.)

The IRS has also posted ten useful tips for filing taxes related to a farm business.

 

What type of insurance do I need for my crops and who sells these policies?

A link to the USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) information regarding crop insurance is included here

 

What are some common legal forms of organization for farms such as LLC, S-Corp, etc.?

Determining the best organizational structure for your farm should only be done after considerations of both short- and long-term impacts of your decision and after talking with an attorney or advisor.

Colorado State University has a publication regarding farm business organization that we've posted here. For information specific to Georgia, you can contact Extension Economist Keith Kightlinger here.

 

How do I create a farmers' cooperative?

One drawback to having a relatively small farm operation is the lack of product to sell to an increasingly large market. One means of reducing this problem is the development of a cooperative. This typically means grouping products under one label for sale to the public. Developing a cooperative is in essence developing a new business, therefore many of the preliminary steps involved are similar to developing a business plan. For assistance on developing a farmers' cooperative, you can contact the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.

The Farmers' Cooperative Yardstick: How to Start a Cooperative (University of Kentucky)

Starting a Farmers' Cooperative Group (Hobbyfarms.com)

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