Marias River Livestock Association

Adding Income through Multifuncional Agriculture


$125.00 per participant

Contact: Carol Keats

Phone: 406-223-2598 (after 5:00 pm)
Address: PO Box 875, Choteau MT 59422



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MRLA To Host Multifunctional Agriculture Classes

The four session Multifunctional Agriculture Class aims to support farmers and ranchers in developing a strategy to add another avenue of income to their agriculture operation. Many operations find that over time "the home place" isn't able to expand in acres or livestock so they must find another means of supplementing that income stream. Some perhaps find that the younger generation is anxious to get back home and work on the farm/ranch but the current operation will not support another family. The goal of Multifunctional Agriculture is to find what resources you have that you can turn into another income avenue.

The first day of the class is about seeing what others have done and examining with the help of Maartin Fischer and the other attendees what your operation has and what your personality and passion can provide. The big term for that is “Internal Analysis.” It's about you and what capital or opportunity you have on your place.

The second day is "External Analysis", which is what is around you. You look at location, traffic, weather and putting it all into a strategy with the internal stuff. Next we try to supply you with the support system you need. Third session is built around the needs of the participants. We will find and invite presenters, who will be people with knowledge of the rules and regulations, promotion and advertising, small business development co-operatives, information of funding through loans and financial opportunities that would relate to your planned business. The fourth and final session is about presenting your business plan to yourself and to the group. Suggestions, reality checks, support and the realization that it is possible for you to put it all together.

There will be homework and online resources. The course is purposely planned during the winter and over a few weeks so that you have time to really research your business plan. You will be given access to an online interactive Strategic Management Tool. The Strategic Management Tool was developed by Agrocenter which is a subsidiary of the Wageningen University Research (WUR) in the Netherlands. It has been used and tested as well as this system of learning and has been very useful and successful for entrepreneurs.

North Central MT Multifunctional Agriculture Seminar

The course is made of four parts:

  • February 24, 2015: Introduction and start of Internal Analysis
  • February 25, 2015: External Analysis and shift towards strategy
  • March 10, 2015: Reality check, rules, regulations, funding, etc.
  • March 11, 2015: Business plan presentation and exchange
  • Meeting time 9:00 – 3:00 lunch provided
  • There will be homework
  • Location of each class will be chosen at a later date to reflect the interests of the class.
  • Guest speakers will be invited according to the competences the participants want to develop.


Farmers and ranchers are looking for new and innovative ways to generate farm income. Rural communities are aging and few young people are learning the skills to take over the operation from their parents. They are leaving to begin different careers because there isn't room or income for them on the family place.

One option for agricultural producers to improve farm profitability and make room for the next generation to stay is to offer additional services on their farm or ranch, transforming their business into a "multifunctional" farm. Typical services of multi-functional farms include agri-tourism, education, regional marketing, health care, and recreation; examples are farmers golf, farm campgrounds or child care farms.

Multifunctional agriculture presents farmers and ranchers with opportunities to capitalize on regional growth and tourism, and is a very successful concept in Europe. In countries like the Netherlands, annual revenue from multifunctional farming activities exceeds 600 million dollars, resulting in an average added on-farm income of $60,000. In addition, multifunctional farms reconnect consumers with agriculture, farmers, ranchers and their surroundings.

As with any new business endeavour, it can be challenging to find ways to incorporate multifunctional farming activities on the farm in a profitable way. Our goal is to provide you with the inspirations and business expertise to bring your ideas to life.


During the course, participants will learn about:

  • Types of multifunctional agriculture, including agri-tourism, education and others
  • Best practices in marketing these new services
  • Co-operative models
  • Relevant zoning, liability and health & safety regulations
  • Public and private funding for investments

Between sessions, participants will work on compiling a business plan based on their ambitions and the specific opportunities that their farm or ranch offers.

At the end of the course, each participant will have:

  • Gained practical knowledge about multifunctional farming
  • Accessed new networks
  • Developed a 5-year business plan for their farm or ranch

This training is not focused on farm economics or investment budgets. It is a training that is designed to develop a strategy. The aim is that the entrepreneur at the end of the training is capable of developing a strategy, or at least understands how this works so he can 'use' his advisers or other people from his network in the right way. So the training is actually focusing on the development of competences of the entrepreneur. The actual strategic plan is more of a by-product.

Maarten Fischer

Maarten Fischer, the instructor for the course, has been at the forefront of developing multifunctional agriculture in the Netherlands and Europe in the past 12 years, both from the angle of farmers and ranchers as from business development. Inspiring entrepreneurs and experts will act as guest speakers.


Classes will be held at a new and inspiring locations every session. The first day will start 9:00am at Dick Kinyon's place out of Conrad and will include an afternoon tour of the Graham Ranch - Lisa Schmidt's Place.

Kinyon is the owner and one of the full time vets for the Conrad Veterinary Hospital. He has a commercial kitchen in his home from which he and his wife Mary Jane operate a catering business and he teaches Dutch Oven Cooking Classes. Dick caters The Prime Rib and Rib Tickler event each year for the Marias River Livestock Association and has catered the last two years for the Shelby Chamber of Commerce Banquet. He is well know in this area.

Lisa Schmidt and Steve Hutton raise lamb meat and wool, and also have a guest house on the ranch to rent. They direct-market the lamb and are developing a plan where they will have useful items produced from their wool and direct-market them also.

Class participants will learn more about the following sessions through e-mail and facebook. For more information and to sign up for the class contact Carol Keats at 406-223-2598 or e-mail her at


MRLA to Host Multifunctional Agriculture Seminar (KSEN AM)
Prairie Ponderings: Reason things happen (Great Falls Tribune)

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